MANHATTAN, Kan. — When Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon went down with a pulled hamstring, he beat the ground with both hands in anger and frustration.
Bohanon knows how much the team depends on him. For the first time this season, the fourth-year junior wouldn’t be there to lead the Bears in the second half.
But redshirt freshman Blake Shapen showed just how poised he could play, especially with a smothering Baylor defense that had his back all the way.
With Shapen leading the No. 11 Bears to a pair of field goals and the defense repeatedly stuffing Kansas State on key plays, Baylor pulled off a 20-10 win Saturday night before 43,857 fans at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Baylor continued to have Kansas State’s number at Bill Snyder Family Stadium as it won for the fourth time in five games.
After Bohanon went out with 59 seconds left in the first half, Shapen stepped in and hit 16 of 21 passes for 137 yards while rushing for 44 yards on five carries. Shapen saw his first action in the last five games after coming in late in a 45-20 win over West Virginia on Oct. 9.
“Obviously huge kudos to Blake to come in a game like that and perform the way he did,” said Baylor receiver Drew Estrada. “We obviously don’t want Gerry hurt. We want him to come back as soon as possible. But for a guy that young to make the plays he did and have the poise he did was huge. We had his back all the way.”
Baylor coach Dave Aranda said he hopes Bohanon will be ready to play in the Nov. 27 regular season finale against Texas Tech at McLane Stadium. But he had complete confidence in Shapen because of his practice habits and instincts for the game.
“Blake in every situation that he’s been put in, whether it goes back to spring or fall, just throughout our practices when he rotates through, he’s rose to every occasion,” Aranda said. “You know, there’s a real strong belief in him, there’s a real strong belief in us in him. So for Blake to come in and attack that moment, that is what we would expect and that’s the Blake that we know and there’s a gunslinger in him, I think you guys all saw that. There’s a lot more there. His future’s very bright.”
With the win, the Bears (9-2, 6-2) stayed in the race with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for the Big 12 championship game Dec. 4 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
After losing their last two road games to Oklahoma State on Oct. 2 and TCU on Nov. 6, the Bears learned from their mistakes and played with high energy from start to finish against Kansas State (7-4, 4-4), which was on a four-game winning streak.
“This game was essential for us,” said Baylor linebacker Dillon Doyle. “Being on the road, we didn’t feel we brought the energy we needed against Oklahoma State or TCU. We felt like we started slow. From two weeks ago to today, and the first half to the second half, we saw a lot of improvement. We saw this as a culture win, and with our culture comes a lot of growth.”
After limiting Oklahoma to 260 yards in last week’s 27-14 win at McLane Stadium, the Bears held Kansas State to 263 yards. Deuce Vaughn rushed for 128 yards on 11 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Skylar Thompson hit 15 of 29 passes for 158 yards, but Baylor sacked him three times.
“The four-man pass rush is still a big area of improvement for us,” Aranda said. “There’s times in the first half particularly, where we’re stuck on blocks. The ability to focus on what you can control and technique and effort improved in the second half. I think the flow of the game kind of established and we had a feel for when a throw and when a run was coming.”
Trying to move the Bears in scoring position on the last drive of the first half, Bohanon ran for 11 yards for a first down at Kansas State’s 44 with 59 seconds left. But he pulled his right hamstring on the sidelines at the end of the run.
Shapen stepped in and hit Ben Sims for seven yards. Then he spotted a wide-open Estrada streaking down the right side for 32 yards to the 8 to set up Isaiah Hankins’ 21-yard field goal to give the Bears a 17-7 lead as time expired.
Even with Bohanon out of the game, the Bears continued to play aggressive football in the second half.
Facing fourth-and-two at the 47, Trestan Ebner was stopped for a one-yard gain to give the Wildcats great field position at Baylor’s 46.
Thompson went to work as he hit Landry Weber for 12 yards, Phillip Brooks for 18 and Vaughn for 11 to the 11. But Thompson missed his next three passes and the Wildcats had to settle for Chris Tennant’s 28-yard field goal to cut Baylor’s lead to 17-10 with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
After Baylor forced a punt, Shapen led a 58-yard drive highlighted by his 15-yard pass to Tyquan Thornton and a 28-yard scramble. Baylor got as close as the 6 before Timmy Horne sacked Shapen for a four-yard loss, forcing the Bears to settle for Hankins’ 28-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 20-10 with 13:35 remaining.
Thompson answered with a 48-yard pass to Malik Knowles to Baylor’s 23. But once again, the Bears’ defense stopped the Wildcats, and Tennant missed a 39-yard field goal attempt wide right with 9:25 remaining.
After Thompson limped out of the game, Jaren Lewis’ first pass was intercepted by Baylor cornerback Al Walcott at the Bears’ 33 to seal the win with 3:45 remaining.
The Bears led the first half from the start after getting a huge break when Kansas State’s Phillip Brooks muffed Issac Powers’ punt and AJ McCarty recovered at the Wildcats’ 24.
Baylor quickly cashed in as Ebner ran around the right side for a six-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 11:09 left in the first quarter. Ebner led the Bears with 86 yards rushing on 11 carries while making seven catches for 27 yards.
In the second quarter, Baylor got a big break when Ebner’s fumbled punt at the 11 was nullified by a 15-yard penalty against Randen Plattner for not giving Ebner room to catch the ball.
The Bears responded with their most impressive drive of the night as they moved 74 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown, taking 7:21 off the clock.
Bohanon hit six of seven passes on the drive for 63 yards, including a 20-yarder to Drake Dabney and a 15-yarder to Sims to give the Bears a first down at the 15.
After hitting Tyquan Thornton for 10 yards, Bohanon rolled right and hit Dabney again for a two-yard touchdown to push Baylor’s lead to 14-0 with 4:01 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcats got a break when the Bears were called for offsides on fourth-and-five in a punting situation.
Vaughn exploded for a 65-yard touchdown run, outracing Baylor safety JT Woods down the right sideline to cut the lead to 14-7 with 2:51 left in the second quarter.