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Baylor vs Tech Football Recap

Nov. 4, 2006

By DAVID KAYE
Reporter

There's no substitute for experience. The Texas Tech Red Raiders gave the Bears a lesson in running the "Air Raid" offense when they threw for 507 yards on their way to a 55-21 win Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.

While the Bears are in their first year with the new pass-happy offense, the Red Raiders have it down to a science. The difference in execution was obvious as Texas Tech out-gained Baylor 682-217.

"We couldn't get any pressure on (Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell)," head Coach Guy Morriss said. "With this offense, and with this set of receivers, if you don't disrupt him and get him out of his rhythm, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. We just couldn't get to him. They had an answer for everything."

After the Red Raiders struck quickly on their first drive, the Bears answered when freshman QB Blake Syzmanski found senior receiver Trent Shelton on a 56-yard touchdown pass.

Syzmanski was thrust into action after senior quarterback Shawn Bell went down with a season-ending injury on Oct. 28. Syzmanski had only thrown five passes in his collegiate career prior to Saturday's game.

"He didn't have the time he needed, but he made plays with his feet," Shelton said. "I think he proved to a lot of people that he's the quarterback of the future."

The Bears took their only lead of the game after James Todd intercepted a Harrell pass and returned it to the Texas Tech three yard line. Syzmanski's touchdown run on the next play put Baylor ahead 14-7, but the Red Raiders responded with 35 unanswered points.

"You can tell they know their offense and do a lot of repetition," senior outside safety Maurice Linguist said. "They started dinking and dunking - kind of picking us apart. Our offense got in a little stalemate, and it just snowballed in the second half."

Syzmanski cut the lead to 42-21 when he ran three yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game late in the third quarter, but that was the last time the Bears would score. His two rushing touchdowns were the most for a Baylor QB since J.J. Joe ran for two in a 21-20 win over Texas on Nov. 21, 1992.

"He played well enough for us to win the ball game if we could've given him some help and protection," Morriss said. "When we gave him some protection he was finding his receivers and throwing the ball a little bit."

Even with protection, it would've been hard for the Baylor offense to match the Texas Tech offensive attack. Harrell threw for 483 yards and four touchdowns, while Shannon Woods rushed 10 times for a career-high 125 yards and three touchdowns. Joel Filani also set a career-high with eight receptions for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

"As a defense, anytime you let the other team score on you, you let your team down," senior cornerback C.J. Wilson said. "Some people don't look at it like that, but if you're a true defensive player at heart, anytime you get scored on it's embarrassing."

Senior punter Daniel Sepulveda made sure the Red Raiders wouldn't be the only ones rewriting the record books. His 60-yard punt in the second quarter was the 89th of his career of at least 50 yards. That total broke Brian Smith's 20-year-old NCAA record.

"It's not like I started playing as a freshman and had my eye on that one," Sepulveda said. "There are so many big names that have punted in college and been real successful, so to be honored like that is pretty humbling."

The loss leaves the Bears' bowl hopes on life support. With a 4-6 overall record, Baylor needs to win their final two games to be bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995.

"Our backs are against the wall, but it's not like we haven't been there before," Shelton said. "Outside of our locker room there might be some people who don't think we can do this, but we can. We've got two more games and we need two wins. You couldn't ask for a better situation."