Baylor offense continues historic pace with 70 points, 781 yards

Posted Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Baylor safety Terrell Burt wanted to get in on the fun. He’s watched the Bears’ offense slash and burn opponents with a relentless onslaught of big plays this season.

That didn’t change Saturday afternoon at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor continued to pile up gaudy offensive statistics while flicking away Louisiana-Monroe 70-7 in front of a crowd of 42,967.

But this time the defense got into the act, including two first-quarter interceptions returned for touchdowns. Cornerback Joe Williams’ 41-yard interception return put the 19th-ranked Bears (3-0) up 21-0. On ULM’s next series, Burt came down with a deflected pass and returned it 63 yards for a score and a 28-0 lead before the concession stand nacho cheese was adequately warmed.

“It was a dream come true,” Burt said of his first-career interception. “I saw a lane and as soon as I got the pick I knew where I was going. I knew all I needed to do was run past [quarterback Kolton] Browning and it was a touchdown.”

By then, the Bears’ offense had already scored twice on lightning-quick drives, with Bryce Petty throwing touchdown passes of 63 and 47 yards to Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese.

The Bears have a bye week before beginning Big 12 play at home against West Virginia Oct. 5. The time off will give the rest of the country time to contemplate the staggering numbers Baylor’s offense has piled up.

The Bears gained 781 yards of total offense Saturday, tying a school record set in their last game. They became the first Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision team to score 28 or more points in the first quarter of three consecutive games in the Bowl Championship Series era (since 1996).

The only other team to score as many first-quarter points at any point in a season was Oklahoma in 2008.

Also, the Bears became the first FBS team to score 60 or more points in its first three games since LSU in 1930. That 2008 Oklahoma team was the last FBS school to score 60 or more points in three consecutive games at any point in the season.

“That’s good,” Baylor coach Art Briles said with understated sincerity. “I had no idea. When you score defensive touchdowns and you have the ability to score offensively and you combine those two things, next thing you know you’ve got a chance to put some things on the board.”

The Bears’ defense, including the kickoff coverage team, wasn’t done with its own big-play contributions. Anthony Webb forced a fumble and Patrick Levels recovered it to set up the Bears at the Warhawks (2-2) 16 with 2:34 left in the first quarter. Petty rushed in for a 2-yard score to give Baylor a 35-0 lead headed into the second quarter. The 35 first-quarter points tied a school record set in 1994.

Petty completed 18 of 27 passes for a career-high 351 yards and four touchdowns. In the second quarter he connected with Goodley for a 65-yard score and Clay Fuller for a 23-yard score to give Baylor a 49-7 lead at halftime.

The Warhawks had no answer offensively for the Bears. Even when they moved the ball into Baylor territory, failed fourth-down conversions kept them off the scoreboard. ULM was 1 for 4 on fourth downs — all in the first half. The one conversion was a 9-yard scoring pass from Browning to Harley Scioneaux late in the second quarter.

Just 17 seconds into the second half, running back Lache Seastrunk streaked down the sideline 75 yards for a score to make it 56-7. On Baylor’s next series, Reese picked up 29 yards on a Petty pass and Shock Linwood rushed three times for 49 yards, including a 10-yard scoring run to push Baylor’s lead to 63-7.

Baylor’s starters came out but the scoring continued. Levi Norwood took a pass from quarterback Seth Russell 65 yards for a score to make it 70-7 with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Seastrunk finished with 156 yards on 10 carries and has rushed for over 100 yards in seven consecutive games, the nation’s longest active streak. Reese caught six passes for 123 yards and a score; Goodley caught five passes for 156 yards and two scores.

Baylor’s offensive fireworks have continued to shine bright under Briles, who’s in his sixth season with the Bears. With an improved defense, the Bears have an eye toward a Big 12 title. Through three nonconference games Baylor’s defense has outscored its three opponents (four touchdowns to two).

But Briles brushed aside any worries that his team could become too cocksure before league play. The Bears were 4-5 in the league in 2012.

“No. Lord, no,” he said. “No, if you are in this business, you know humble. Humble is not behind you, but it’s in front of you and to the side and behind. It’s all right there. These teeth aren’t real. They’ve been kicked in a few times. If you want to get humble, we can throw out five examples from last year that can humble you. That’s never going to be an issue.”

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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