7:00 PM ET, September 30, 2006
Floyd Casey Stadium, WACO, TX
WACO, Texas (AP) -- After struggling through the non-conference schedule, things finally came together for Baylor in the Big 12 opener.
Shawn Bell threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns and the defense forced five turnovers to give the Bears consecutive Big 12 victories for the first time after a 17-3 victory over Kansas State on Saturday night.
Heading into conference play with a losing record for the first time since 1999, coach Guy Morriss told his seniors this week that it was their team and "they need to take charge of it."
Bell and his top receivers did.
Trent Shelton's 75-yard TD catch late in the first quarter put Baylor ahead to stay, and Dominique Zeigler made a leaping grab for a 7-yard score in the third quarter. Zeigler had eight catches for 73 yards, plus completed a 12-yard pass to Bell on a throw-back play.
"Take control of it, that's exactly what they did," Morriss said. "I thought there were a little flat warming up, and I was a little nervous. But I guess they were just concentrating and focusing."
Including their 44-34 victory over Oklahoma State in last season's finale, the Bears (2-3, 1-0) have won back-to-back conference games for the first time since 1995 -- the final year of the old Southwest Conference.
The three points were the fewest points allowed by the Bears in their 81 Big 12 games -- the previous low was 13. In its three non-conference losses this season, Baylor lost after leading at halftime, including 27-20 in overtime to Army last week at home.
"We haven't finished a game," said safety Dwain Crawford, who had two interceptions. "We haven't played the last two quarters of a game. Tonight, the defense played a whole game."
Kansas State (3-2, 0-1) lost its sixth straight Big 12 opener, and first road game for new coach Ron Prince -- who switched quarterbacks after halftime and plans to stick with freshman Josh Freeman "for the foreseeable future." The Wildcats play Oklahoma State at home next week.
"We're not looking back," Prince said. "I felt Josh gave us the best chance to move the ball. ... I'm not looking for a silver lining."
Freeman, who graduated high school early and went through spring drills, was 11-of-33 for 196 yards with three interceptions. He was 3-of-14 in limited action the first four games.
Dylan Meier regained his starting job in the spring and preseason camp after missing last season with a shoulder injury. But the senior has completed only half his passes this year, including 11 of 22 for 100 yards against Baylor.
Bell was 25-of-46 passing in his seventh straight 200-yard game, matching the school record set by Don Trull in 1963.
Shelton ran past defensive back Justin McKinney along the left sideline and Bell hit him in stride. The receiver raced untouched to the end zone for the longest pass play in Bell's 32 career games (19 starts).
"I caught it and I thought he would be on my back. I guess I'm a little faster than I think," Shelton said. "Shawn put it in a perfect spot. I ran under it and did what I'm supposed to do."
Bell was under pressure when he threw a floater toward Zeigler, who made the leaping catch even as a defender grabbed at his jersey.
Ryan Havens kicked a 22-yard field goal late in the third quarter, five plays after Crawford intercepted his first pass.
Baylor had lost all five previous meetings against Kansas State by at least 28 points, with only two offensive TDs in those games.
Yamon Figurs recovered two botched punts by Baylor in the second quarter, but the Wildcats managed only a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Snodgrass. That came after Figurs' second recovery at the Baylor 39.
But Figurs gave one back in the third quarter when he was stripped from behind by James Todd and fumbled at the end of a 68-yard pass play from Freeman. The Bears punted after getting to midfield, but got the ball back three plays later on the first of Crawford's two interceptions.
Baylor won its only other Big 12 openers in 2002 and 2003, and didn't win another conference game either season. The Bears are 9-72 overall in Big 12 games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-19||5-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-0|
|TD||2:35||TRENT SHELTON 75 YD PASS FROM SHAWN BELL (RYAN HAVENS KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 90 yards.
|FG||2:06||JEFF SNODGRASS 41 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 17 yards.
|TD||10:13||DOMINIQUE ZEIGLER 11 YD PASS FROM SHAWN BELL (RYAN HAVENS KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 33 yards.
|FG||2:14||RYAN HAVENS 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 16 yards.