8:00 PM ET, September 3, 2005
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
DALLAS (AP) -- Failing to score after starting drives 13, 20 and 28 yards from the end zone is not the way to open a season, especially for a team that had lost its last 24 road games.
Fortunately for the Baylor Bears, they were playing the SMU Mustangs.
Unable to do things the easy way early, the Bears managed to go 93 and 80 yards for touchdowns in the final 7:47 -- and they needed both to pull out a 28-23 victory Saturday night.
"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it," Baylor linebacker Collin Allred said.
The Bears won on the road for the first time since their 2000 opener and are 1-0 for the first time since 2001. It was just their third win in the last 47 road games, a span that covers eight-plus seasons and four coaches. It's also the first road win under the current coach, Guy Morriss.
Paul Mosley ran for 105 yards and all three Baylor touchdowns, and Brandon Whitaker added 110. Both players set career highs in yards, and it was the first time Baylor had two 100-yard rushers since 1996.
Whitaker had 100 yards in the second half, when the Bears decided to try grinding out yards and wearing out the Mustangs.
"We were trying to rotate our big linemen in there and pound on them," Morriss said. "I think what got them was Mosley pounding on them, and then we shifted gears to a guy like Whitaker. ... It's a good 1-2 punch."
Mosley capped the 93-yard drive by going 1 yard around right end for a 21-14 lead, putting Baylor ahead for the first time. The Bears appeared on the verge of giving it back by fumbling a punt at their 19, but the hapless Mustangs -- who haven't beaten a nonconference foe since 2000 -- managed only a field goal.
Baylor answered with an 80-yard drive that Mosley capped with a 12-yard TD run, making it 28-17.
SMU scored again with 19 seconds left, but missed a 2-point conversion, a fitting ending to a game that also featured a blocked punt, a blocked field goal, a fumbled kickoff and two interceptions by Bears quarterback Shawn Bell, who had thrown only one in his 17-game career and none in a school-record 159 passes coming in.
"I think we came out trying to press a little bit," said Bell, who was 23-of-40 for 198 yards with the two interceptions and no touchdowns.
With the victory, Baylor preserved a bit of dignity for the four Texas teams in the Big 12. This makes the Bears 15-0 against the four schools they spurned when the Southwest Conference broke up 10 years ago.
The Mustangs kept alive another dubious streak by dropping their 29th straight game under coach Phil Bennett when they scored 24 points or less.
SMU did ruin one statistical oddity, a 13-game run in which the team leading after one quarter won. The Mustangs were up 7-3 one period into this one.
Tony Eckert started at quarterback for SMU and was 6-of-18 for 64 yards and a touchdown, but backup Jerad Romo played most of the game. He was 3-of-8 for 42 yards but ran 14 times for a team-best 82 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown. Richuel Massey gained 64 yards on eight carries, with a 19-yard TD run.
"I think everybody played well, but not at the same time," Romo said.
When the teams last met two years, Baylor won 10-7. Afterward, Morriss told Bennett, "That's two bad offenses, isn't it?" He could've said something similar at halftime of this one.
SMU opened the game going three-and-out, then had a punt blocked, letting Baylor start at the 28. The Bears ended up missing a 44-yard field goal.
The Mustangs converted a fourth-and-7 on their next drive, which reached the Baylor 4. They went for a 22-yard field goal, and it was blocked. Bell threw an interception on Baylor's next play, then Romo scored on the next snap.
The Bears made it 7-3 on their next drive and had a great chance to go ahead when SMU fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the 13. But a fourth-down pass went incomplete.
The Mustangs gave the Bears yet another gift by losing a fumble at their 20 on the first play of the second quarter. Bell gave the ball back soon after with another interception.
Less than two minutes before halftime, Bennett made the curious decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Baylor 45 when a punt would've pinned the Bears deep with only one timeout left. SMU failed to get the first down, and the Bears drove just 24 yards to set up a field goal that got them within 7-6 at halftime.
"There was a lot of ugly football played today, not just by us," Morriss said. "I was really pleased by the way they hung in there. Possibly two years ago, we wouldn't have been able to do that."