WACO, Texas (AP) — Houston quarterback Donovan Smith ran for a game-winning 2-point conversion after his 1-yard touchdown run in overtime and the Cougars got their first Big 12 road victory, 25-24 over Baylor on Saturday.
After Baylor (3-6, 2-4 Big 12) began the overtime with freshman Dawson Pendergrass' 3-yard TD run, Houston (4-5, 2-4) had to start its OT possession from the 40 after the enforcement of a 15-yard penalty on the Bears' extra point.
On the play before Smith's touchdown, the ball came out when he stretched toward the end zone. It was originally ruled a fumble, but that call was overturned on replay review, and the ball placed inside the 1, setting up his score. The Cougars then called timeout and decided to go for the win instead of trying to force a second extra period.
“We knew what play we were going to run,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They knew it and it worked. I guess the football gods were looking after us.”
Smith threw two TD passes, the second a 24-yarder to Tony Mathis Jr. with 5:38 left in regulation that put the Cougars up 17-10. They missed a chance to extend that lead when Jack Martin missed a 44-yard field goal with 2:51 remaining.
Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen then converted fourth-and-17 with a 27-yard scramble to Houston’s 40, and completed his next four passes. He was under heavy pressure when he tossed a 1-yard TD to tight end Hawkins Polley with 29 seconds left in regulation.
“It’s a sad and frustrated and really kind of broken locker room,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “All of that is just very tough. But I’m appreciative and honored by their fight. But I’m disappointed by our lack of execution, especially early in the game.”
Houston had a 10-0 halftime lead on Smith's 26-yard TD pass to Samuel Brown in the second quarter.
The Bears got their first touchdown on a trick play with 2:20 left in the third quarter when Shapen hit wide-open tight end Drake Dabney for a 38-yard score. They tied the game at 10-all midway through the fourth quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins, who missed a kick earlier and had a kick blocked.
BEEN A LONG TIME
Baylor and Houston played for the first time since 1995 when the Bears rolled to a 47-7 win at the Astrodome in the final season of the Southwest Conference. COVID-19 forced Baylor to cancel a hastily scheduled game in 2020 after the Cougars’ equipment truck had already pulled up to McLane Stadium the day before the game.
Houston: The Cougars broke through with their first Big 12 road win, a week after losing 41-0 at defending conference champion Kansas State. They also lost 49-28 to Texas Tech on Sept. 30.
“I’m just really proud of our kids after what happened last week,” Holgorsen said. “That was a tough deal. I’m proud of how they attacked the week. This game made sense to our team. Playing three hours up the road, they were fired up for it.”
Baylor: The Bears dropped to 1-6 at McLane Stadium this season with the only win being 30-7 over FCS member Long Island on Sept. 16. Baylor has lost its last eight home games to FBS opponents since a 35-23 win over Kansas on Oct. 22, 2022.
Baylor will try to improve to 3-0 in Big 12 road games when they play Saturday at Kansas State.
Houston will play at home for the first time in a month when hosting Cincinnati on Saturday. The Cougars haven't played at home since a thrilling 41-39 last-second win over West Virginia on Oct. 12.
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