No. 21 Baylor rumbles over Rice

The Sports Xchange

September 16, 2016 at 11:39 pm.

Sep 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver KD Cannon (9) scores a touchdown on a reception during the fourth quarter against the Rice Owls at Rice Stadium. Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver KD Cannon (9) scores a touchdown on a reception during the fourth quarter against the Rice Owls at Rice Stadium. Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON — The 21st-ranked Baylor Bears continued to rumble through nonconference play as they shrugged off the Rice Owls on Friday night at Rice Stadium.

Baylor fell behind during a lackluster first quarter, but then the Bears roared to life and claimed a 38-10 victory over the Owls.

Bears quarterback Seth Russell found his rhythm at the start of the second quarter and went on to pass for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Baylor receiver KD Cannon caught nine passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns and the Bears rushed for 296 yards and two more scores.

It was the kind of offensive balance that former Baylor coach Art Briles strived to establish. As it happened, Briles was looking on from the stands at Rice stadium, watching the Bears in person for the first time since he was dismissed by the school in May amid a Title IX scandal.

Rice running back Darik Dillard rushed for 124 yards as he helped the Owls keep pace for the first half. But Rice didn’t achieve balance, passing for just 31 yards.

Baylor kicker Chris Callahan made a 23-yard field goal and Russell hit tight end Jordan Feuerbacher for a 22-yard touchdown to give Baylor a 21-point lead by the end of the third quarter.

Bears running back Shock Linwood took over Baylor’s school career rushing yards record with a five-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Linwood began the game needing 48 yards to pass Walter Abercrombie’s record of 3,665 yards. Linwood finished the game with 13 carries for 57 yards.

For the second consecutive week, Baylor fell into an early field-goal deficit when Rice marched to the Bears’ 6-yard line. Baylor held from there, but the Owls scored first as kicker Hayden Tobola booted a 24-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

A week ago, SMU took a 6-0 advantage over Baylor on a pair of first-half field goals. The Bears were unable to go in front until the third quarter of that game.

However, Rice’s 3-0 lead seemed to be a wake-up call for the Baylor offense, which had been sluggish to that point.

The Bears responded with an eight-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that took only 2:24. Baylor running back JaMycal Hasty capped the march with a 16-yard run for a touchdown that put Baylor ahead with 11:07 left in the second quarter.

Russell completed only 2 of 8 passes with no touchdowns and an interception through the first quarter. When Baylor fell behind, though, Russell began to click. He connected on 3 of 4 passes for 63 yards on the Bears’ first scoring drive.

Russell kept it up on Baylor’s next offensive series as he hit Cannon for a 10-yard touchdown, converting a short field into a 32-yard scoring drive.

Rice constructed a nine-play 75-yard march to dent Baylor’s lead in the second quarter. Owls quarterback Tyler Stehling broke loose for a 28-yard run to the Baylor 20 to spark the drive. Rice running back Emmanuel Esukpa scored on a 1-yard run to cut the Bears’ lead to 14-10.

But Baylor reasserted itself. Russell moved the offense with his legs, rushing for 24 yards to key a drive into Owls’ territory. Bears running back Terence Williams capped it with a 24-yard touchdown run for a 21-10 lead with 1:45 left before halftime.

Baylor outgained Rice 62-61 in total yards in the first quarter, but pulled away by halftime as the Bears piled up 298 yards to Rice’s 191 at the break.

NOTES: Baylor has a 49-30-2 lead and an eight-game winning streak in the all-time series. The Owls last victory over Baylor was 34-31 in 1992 in Houston, when both schools were members of the Southwest Conference. … Rice hosted a ranked team in Rice Stadium for the first time since the Owls defeated No. 21 BYU 27-14 in 1997. Rice’s last 26 contests vs. ranked opponents were played on the road or at NRG Stadium in Houston. … Baylor extended its September winning streak to 11 games.