October 31, 2009

Bears come close to first conference win

Despite an inspired second half defensive effort, Baylor fell to Nebraska 20-10 on Saturday afternoon. Nick Florence completed 19 of 38 passes for 222 yards, and his counterpart Cody Green finished 12 of 21 for 128.

Baylor began the game in one of the worst possible ways, stalling on its own 34 yard line and allowing Derek Epperson's fourth-down punt to be blocked and returned for a Justin Blatchford touchdown.

The Cornhuskers were able to find the end zone again when Dontrayevous Robinson's one yard run capped a 46 yard drive that included a 45 yard pass from Cody Green to Niles Paul. Alex Henery's two first-half field goals brought the Nebraska lead to 20-0 at halftime.

Coming out of the locker room the Bears' defensive unit looked like a different team. The Cornhuskers were unable to move the ball effectively, and cornerback Clifton Odom returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter to pull the Bears within 10. Odom's interception was one of six Nebraska plays that ended with either a turnover or a three-and-out.

Neither team was able to score after Odom's return, although Baylor's Ben Parks missed a 29 yard field goal with fewer than seven minute remaining. The Bears later worked the ball down to Nebraska's 20 with 1:43 remaining, but failed to convert a 4th and 10 from there.

All those sporting green and gold were clearly disappointed after the game, but Art Briles still commended his team's effort after its horrendous start.

"I'm proud of our guys for fighting hard the entire game, because it couldn't have started any worse that it did," Briles said.

He was also pleased to see the defense force its second and third turnover in Big 12 play, something the team stressed throughout practice last week.

"There were a couple of things that were pretty inspiring," he said. "It's been a while since we've had a chance to have fun and be excited on the field, and it felt good."

Odom, who did not get the start last week against Oklahoma State, thanked his defensive coaches for his interception. Both he and several teammates agreed that at that point, the Bears felt they could change the game and take control.

"It was a great call by coach," said Odom. "We were playing Cover 2, they threw it out to the flat and I was in the right place at the right time."

Unfortunately Baylor could not seize control in the second half, and although they played stronger offensively they could not finish any of their drives with points. Much of the Bears' second half yardage came from David Gettis, who caught six passes for 114 yards.

Florence said several of the plays were designed for Gettis, who has worked to shed his reputation of dropping big plays last season.

From an aerial view one could see Floyd Casey Stadium's most glaring contrast, as a solid quarter of the stadium was covered by a sea of Nebraska red. The Bears' home crowd consisted of green and gold sprinkled around the rest of the bleachers.

But a lack of home support was still no excuse for Baylor, according to senior linebacker Joe Pawelek.

"I think that when their side of the stadium is full, you have a little chip on your shoulder," said Pawelek. "But when it comes down to it, it's all playing football."

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