Donovan Smith’s 3 TDs help Houston hold off Baylor 25-24 in OT thriller

Baylor played Houston for the first time in nearly three decades
Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, center, watches from the sideline during the first half of an...
Baylor head coach Dave Aranda, center, watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA football game against Central Florida on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)(Phelan M. Ebenhack | AP)
Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 6:46 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Baylor looked to get the best of their old Southwest Conference rival Houston in their first matchup since 1995.

The Bears and the Cougars both came into the game sitting at 3-5 and each were desperate for a win.

From the start of the game Baylor’s offense had a balanced approach, running the ball 34 times to 37 throws.

A balanced approach was a far cry from previous weeks where Baylor’s passing game took center stage.

Baylor’s offense had two opportunities to get on the board in the first half but could not punch it in and had to settle for field goal attempts instead.

The Bears failed to capitalize as Baylor’s kicker Isaiah Hankins went 0-2 on those attempts, having his first attempt blocked early in the first quarter and missing the second attempt wide right near the end of the first half.

Hankins would hit a critical field goal later in the second half, finishing the game 1/3 on field goal attempts.

Those missed opportunities led to the Bears being down 7-0 going into halftime, but Baylor’s defensive performance in the first half kept the game in reach heading into the second.

Houston came out of halftime and put together a methodical 8-minute drive, but Baylor’s defense held them to a field goal, extending Houston’s lead to 10-0.

Baylor responded with an impressive drive of their own that was capped off with Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen finding Drake Dabney on a fleaflicker for a 38-yard touchdown, making it 10-7 near the end of the third quarter.

Starting the fourth quarter, Baylor put together a lengthy 11 play nearly 7-minute scoring drive to tie the game at 10-10.

After a quick scoring drive from Houston, Baylor got the ball back down 7 with 5:38 left to go in the fourth quarter and a chance to tie the game.

Shapen threw a critical interception and gave the Cougars the ball back in great field position.

The Bears defense came up with another huge stop and forced Houston into a 44-yard field goal attempt that was missed wide right.

Shapen and the Bears offense got a second chance to get in scoring position still down 7 with 2:51 left in the game.

Shapen orchestrated an impressive scoring drive, which included a 28-yard run from the quarterback on 4th and 18 to keep the drive alive and tied the game at 17-17, sending the game to overtime.

Baylor got the ball first in overtime and took their first lead of the game when Dawson Pendergrass powered his way in the endzone to give Baylor the 24-17 lead.

After a penalty pushed the Cougar’s offense back, their offense marched down and responded with a touchdown run by Houston quarterback Donovan Smith.

With the game in the balance, Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen elected to attempt a 2-point conversion and go for the win.

Smith took the snap and ran up the middle for the 2-point conversion, sealing the 25-24 win for Houston.

Shapen finished the game going 29/37 for 261 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.

Smith finished the game going 20/25 for 217 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also added 58 yards rushing, a score on the ground and the game winning 2-point conversion.

With the loss, Baylor falls to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

Baylor prepares to hit the road for a Big 12 matchup against No. 23 Kansas State next Saturday (11/11).