Turnovers Help Baylor Blow Away WSU 45-17

WACO, Tex. – The Baylor Bears ran all over the Washington State defense on Friday night, taking advantage of six WSU turnovers to beat the Cougars 45-17 Friday night at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.

The game had been moved up to Friday night in advance of Hurricane Ike, which was to hit Texas early Saturday.

The six turnovers by WSU included four fumbles and two interceptions.  The defense also struggled, as Baylor ran up 555 yards of total offense, including 426 on the ground.

It all started off great for WSU.  Michael Willis took the opening kickoff 50 yards until being tackled by Baylor kicker Ben Parks.  Nine plays and 3:33 later, the Cougars had a 7-0 lead when Chantz Staden punched it in from a yard out.

Baylor scored on their first drive, when Baylor freshman quarterback Robert Griffin ended a 10-play, 78 yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.  After a Cougar fumble at the WSU 27, Griffin scrambled around before connecting with Ernest Smith for a touchdown pass on the next play to make the score 14-7 for the Bears.

Washington State tied the game midway in the second quarter, when Kevin Lopina, making his first start at quarterback, capped a 54-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.  The score was 14-14, and that was as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the night.

The Bears responded quickly.  After the kickoff was returned to the Baylor 30, Griffith ran for 57 yards to the WSU 13.  Jeremy Sanders scored on the next play, and 28 seconds after WSU had tied the game, Baylor was ahead 21-14.

It was 28-14 for Baylor three minutes later.  After a WSU punt and three plays, Jay Finley ran for a 46-yard touchdown, and the Bears were pulling away from the Cougars in front of their home crowd.  That’s where the score stayed at the half, helped by Parks missing a 33-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half.  That was about the only thing that went wrong for Baylor on the evening.

It only took the Bears just over three minutes to extend their lead in the third quarter.  After the Cougars punted on their first possession of the second half, Griffin ran for his third touchdown of the night, a 58-yard scamper to give Baylor a 35-14 lead, and the rout was on. 

The news got worse for the Cougars later in the third.  Lopina was sacked by Baylor’s Antonio Jones on a 3rd and 23 play, fumbling the ball.  Baylor recovered, but Lopina sprained his right wrist and didn’t return to the game.  Gary Rogers finished the game at QB for the Cougars.

Baylor scored again on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Kendall Wright ran in from 10 yards out to give Baylor a 42-10 lead.  Fortunately for WSU, it was Baylor’s last trip to the end zone.

The two teams exchanged field goals later in the fourth.  Nico Grasu connected from 31 yards out with 10:42 remaining to cut the lead to 42-17, but Parks hit from 23 yards away four minutes later to complete the scoring at 45-17.

Griffin was the very impressive for the Bears.  He was 7-15 for 129 yards passing with a touchdown, and he ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, given him 346 yards of total offense.  Finley also ran for 119 yards and a touchdown for Baylor.

Lopina did well in the two-plus quarters he played before he was injured.  He was 17-26 for 174 yards, but he was intercepted twice and had fumbled on the play he was hurt on.  Brandon Gibson caught eight balls for 128 yards for WSU, but the Cougars only had 77 yards rushing on the game.  The Cougars are 0-3 for the first time since 1999.

The Bears (2-1) next play a week from Saturday, when they travel to East Hartford, Connecticut to play the Connecticut Huskies.

Washington State returns to Martin Stadium on September 20th, as they play the Portland State Vikings from the Big Sky Conference.  Game time is 4 p.m.