DURHAM, N.C. (KWTX) Chris Platt's career-high 148 receiving yards and two touchdowns were overshadowed by Baylor's four turnovers and third-down conversion struggles in a 34-20 loss to the Duke Blue Devils.
The Baylor defense tallied five sacks -- two by Brian Nance -- but spent nearly 39 minutes on the field. Clay Johnston led the Bears with 13 tackles, one sack and a pass deflection.
It was a great start for Baylor (0-3) both defensively and offensively. After Deonte Williams recovered a fumble in Duke territory, Zach Smith capped off the opening possession with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Mims.
Duke (3-0) came right back to tie it with a 50-yard touchdown run by Shaun Wilson, and the game stayed 7-7 until early in the second quarter when Brittain Brown gave the Blue Devils a 14-7 advantage with a touchdown run from 34 yards out.
Other than the Blue Devils' strong rushing attack, the Bears' downfall can be attributed to 10 penalties in the first half that resulted in 89 additional yards for Duke.
Baylor's only turnover came in the second quarter when Smith's pass to Gavin Holmes was immediately jarred loose into the air and intercepted by Joe Giles-Harris, who returned it five yards to set the Blue Devils up inside the red zone. However, a missed field goal three plays later kept the Bears within seven points.
Following a turnover on downs to begin the third quarter, Duke countered with another long touchdown run by Wilson, who carried the football 65 yards on the first play of the possession.
Baylor answered just moments later with Platt's first touchdown catch -- a 73-yard completion just 3:30 into the second half.
Austin Parker's 45-yard field goal extended Duke's lead to 24-14, and Smith's second interception of the day was the end result on the following Baylor possession.
After the Baylor defense forced a punt, Platt caught a screen pass, waited for blocks to develop and cut toward the middle of the field before breaking away for a 79-yard touchdown. After a missed extra point by Connor Martin, the Bears trailed 24-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
Baylor got the ball back after forcing another Duke punt, but Smith's pass was intercepted by Ben Humphreys and returned for a touchdown to put the pressure back on the Bears, who trailed 31-20.
Smith completed just 12 of 34 passes.
Eric Ogor and Ira Lewis had sacks as part of that evident pass rush, but Duke's ability to run for 246 yards on 51 carries made a difference.
The offense was unable to find its rhythm again for the rest of the quarter, which featured an additional 26-yard field goal from Parker.
- After forcing just one turnover in the first two games, Baylor forced two in the first half against Duke -- a fumble in the first quarter, and an interception in the second.
- Baylor entered the game with one of the lowest third-down conversion rates at the FBS level, while Duke was ranked in the top five in defending third downs. The Bears' only third-down conversion came late in the fourth quarter while facing a 14-point deficit.