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Bears defeat Bearkats, 27-6

Sept. 23, 2003

By Matt Richards, reporter

In a final tune-up before Big 12 Conference play begins in two weeks, the Bears defeated the Sam Houston State University Bearkats 27-6. The win makes Baylor's record an even 2-2 in nonconference play.

Led by junior quarterback Aaron Karas, the Bear offense struggled with consistency throughout the game. On the first drive, faced with a third and long, Karas connected with senior wide receiver Robert Quiroga for a 40-yard pass to extend the drive. Despite having a first down on the Bearkat 24-yard line, a barrage of penalties led to a long fourth down and a failed field goal attempt.

However, the defense was able to regain possession two plays later after an interception by junior defensive back Tyson Hampton. The Bears took over possession deep in Bearkat territory but were held to a field goal.

On the next drive, the Bears finally hit their stride. After a strong punt return by sophomore defensive back Willie Andrews to the Bearkat 38-yard line, Karas was able to push the offense into the end zone. He connected with Quiroga on a seven-yard pass for the score.

At the end of the first quarter, the Bears had a 10-0 lead. Karas completed six of seven passes, and senior running back Rashad Armstrong ran for 47 yards.

Andrews and the special teams continued to give Karas and the offense excellent field position in the second quarter. The Bears began the first drive of the second quarter on the Bearkat 34-yard line. Armstrong rushed for a five-yard touchdown to put the Bears up 17-0.

But it was at that point when the offense began to struggle. Heading into halftime, the Bear offense had gained 53 total yards in the second quarter. Inconsistency was at the forefront of head Coach Guy Morriss mind at halftime.

'We peeled a little paint off the walls at halftime,' Morriss said. 'I think it was a matter of coming out and playing with a little more intensity.'

The tactic paid off. On the first drive of the second half, Karas rolled to his right and connected on a broken play with Armstrong for a 39-yard touchdown.

But again, the Bears offense seemed to flat-line after that touchdown. Hampered by poor execution and an interception on the Bearkat one-yard line, the Bears were unable to put up any more points until the fourth quarter.

After seven turnovers against the University of North Texas and two against Southern Methodist University, turnovers continue to be a problem plaguing the Bears.

'What really bothers me is our lack of regards for ball security,' Morriss said. 'We're giving away like you give away nickel candy. We just can't do that.'

Despite Morriss' frustrations, the game was statistically solid for the Bears. Karas completed 11 of 20 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown. Armstrong rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

But the player with the strongest game statistically was Andrews. Andrews returned six punts for 75 yards, two kickoffs for 48 yards and recovered a fumble at defensive back during the third quarter. Andrews is slowly establishing himself as the return specialist for the team.

'I feel that my special teams helps get the offense in great field position and help them have a short field,' Andrews said.

But Morriss made it clear that with conference play looming, there would be much tougher opponents that the Bears are going to face.

'We're not where we need to be, I'll tell you that,' Morriss said. 'With the strength of the teams that we're going to play in two weeks, we don't stand a chance if we don't come to play [with intensity] every week.'