LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Baylor will represent the North Division at the first-ever Red River Championship to be held April 1. The Bears beat Texas Tech 42-15 in Waco, Tex. Feb. 25 to complete a 7-1 conference record totaling 32 standings points – good enough to clinch the Red River’s North Division ahead of second-place Oklahoma’s eighth and final regular season match. Elsewhere in the conference, Houston earned its first-ever Red River victory by squeaking out a 10-8 win over Texas.
Baylor 42 – 15 Texas Tech
Baylor outplayed its opponent during the opening of the game, but couldn’t create a try based off its possession and positive territory. Meanwhile Texas Tech’s Steven Collins gave his team a brief lead with a penalty kick in the 14th minute.
“We were very much in control during those first 20 minutes, both with possession and territory, but we couldn’t put points on the board for some reason,” said Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering. “It was a little frustrating from a coaching perspective. Tech was certainly coming up hard in defense and putting in some big tackles, but often we just didn’t seem to recognize and attack the right spots in the defense.”
A Parker Vincent penalty kick 23 minutes in the game tied the contest and seemed to settle the nerves of the Bears who followed the three-pointer with a Pernell Greenidge try and five more points off Vincent’s boot to take a 13-3 lead into half.
Baylor’s tempo picked up in the second period thanks to the clean distribution of sophomore scrum half Ben Neukomm, who found the try zone just two minutes the half.
“He’s not afraid to take chances himself which is evident in his try-scoring effort,” Hering said Neukomm.
Lock Erriton Fuller and Stewart Morris III would dot down before the Red Raiders earn their first try through the hands of inside center Robert Flinn. Trailing 32-8, Flinn’s score spark another – this time by fellow center Conner Wyatt.
Tech’s Techs good fortune didn’t last, though. Cordon Moog scored the game’s last try and Baylor teammate Luke Davis, who took over kicking duties after Vincent left the game with an injury, slotted a conversion and late penalty to make the final score 42-15.
The win puts the Bears in the Red River Championship game, but they don’t know which conference foe to prepare for yet. Texas A&M holds a slim lead over No. 17 LSU in the South standings, but have played two more games than the Tigers. The two teams go head-to-head Saturday, March 4 in College Station, Tex. If LSU can beat the Aggies, as it did back in November, the Tigers will have all but clinched the South. A Texas A&M win this coming weekend keeps the Aggies in the South race.
Houston 10 – 8 Texas
The Cougars are no longer winless in the Red River Conference after a superior second half propelled Houston over Texas, 10-8. The Longhorns won the opening half of the 80-minute defensive struggle. Fly half Corin Wakefield put the first three points on the board with a penalty kick midway through the first half, and center Jack Beadle added an unconverted try to give the visiting Longhorns an 8-0 advantage at the break.
Houston tightened its structure on defense and saw a few more passes go to hand in the second half. Full back Ryan Becker finally got his side on the board with a converted try in the 50th minute. Still trailing by a point was the match’s final seconds ticking off the clock, a penalty awarded to Houston gave Patrick Gaffney a game-winning opportunity from the kicking tee and Gaffney didn’t disappoint. The center split the uprights with his kick, sending the Cougars to their first win as a member of the Red River Conference.