Smith, Ebner carry Baylor in 66-7 rout of Texas Southern
WACO, Texas (AP) — Abram Smith and Tristan Ebner both rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half, and Baylor scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions in a 66-7 victory over Texas Southern on Saturday night.
Gerry Bohanon was 16-for-21 passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores for the Bears (2-0). Baylor outgained Texas Southern 458-52 in the first half and 714-283 overall in matching its win total from last season, when the Bears were 2-7.
“I was impressed with the week that went into this,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said after his first nonconference home game with the Bears, who didn’t play outside the Big 12 because of the pandemic in his 2020 debut. “I think some of that had to do with just the second week, knowing what’s expected. The main piece was, ‘We’re here, we can go there, we can do this. Look what we can become.’”
Smith ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and Ebner added 125 yards on 10 attempts, the second straight week both eclipsed the century mark.
Taye McWilliams came on late and had 102 yards and a touchdown on six carries, giving the Bears three 100-yard rushers for the first time since Sept. 12, 2015, against Lamar.
The Bears’ 419 yards rushing were the most they’ve had in a game since they put up 469 on Oct. 1, 2016, against Iowa State.
Tyquan Thornton led Baylor with five catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and Ebner added 70 yards and a score on four catches.
“Coach challenged me, Tyquan and some of the other receivers on the deep ball this game,” Bohanon said. “We didn’t connect well on it in the last game, so it was a big emphasis for us this week. We got the job done.”
Before last week’s win at Texas State, Baylor hadn’t had two 100-yard rushers in a single game since the 2018 season opener against Abilene Christian.
Jalen Brown was 7 of 12 for 96 yards passing for Texas Southern (0-2).
“He made some freshman mistakes, which we expect, but he also made some plays,” Texas Southern coach Clarence McKinney said. “He kept the sticks alive at times, and games like this will do nothing but help him.”
Texas Southern: The Tigers can take some positives in that they didn’t have any penalties in the first half and didn’t turn the ball over until the fourth quarter. But they were completely overmatched and didn’t move the ball inside the Baylor 40-yard line until there were less than six minutes left in the third quarter.
Baylor: The Bears did what they were supposed to against an inferior opponent. They started fast, never let up and scored on every possession except for when they took a knee to end the game. At one point in the fourth quarter, Baylor had 288 yards passing and 288 rushing.
‘KICK IN THE GUT’
Baylor athletic director Mack Rhodes and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the media at McLane Stadium before Saturday’s game.
The pair discussed how they handled the news that Texas and Oklahoma were leaving the Big 12 and the mindset that went into adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the conference.
“For all of us initially, it was a kick in the gut,” Rhodes said. “We went into that phase of realizing we’ve got a special group of eight teams, and now how do we fortify that? What are those pieces that will make us even better and nationally relevant moving forward?”
Bowlsby said he hasn’t received “any indication at all” that Texas and Oklahoma will leave the Big 12 before the end of their “grant of rights,” which runs through June 30, 2025.
The Baylor crowd gave an early indication of the reception Texas will receive from Big 12 foes when it goes on the road this season. One of the loudest cheers of the second half, when Baylor had the game well in hand, came when the Longhorns’ 40-21 loss to Arkansas was announced.
Texas Southern has a week off before a road game against Rice.
Baylor opens Big 12 play with a road game against Kansas next Saturday.