Baylor Scores Six Straight TDs In 42-21 Win Over Irish

Quarterback Lorenzo White Has Three TD Passes In Season Opener

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - by John Hunt
Notre Dame's Akil Sledge (24) runs past Baylor's Jaylon Baker on his way to an Irish touchdown. Despite Sledge's run, the Red Raiders scored six times in a row on their way to a 42-21 defeat of the Irish Thursday evening at Finley Stadium.
Notre Dame's Akil Sledge (24) runs past Baylor's Jaylon Baker on his way to an Irish touchdown. Despite Sledge's run, the Red Raiders scored six times in a row on their way to a 42-21 defeat of the Irish Thursday evening at Finley Stadium.
- photo by Dennis Norwood

Notre Dame coach Charles Fant knows that the only way his Fighting Irish football team will get better is to schedule teams that are better.

Fant got his wish Thursday night at Finley Stadium in the opening game of the first-ever Kickoff Classic as Notre Dame challenged the Baylor Red Raiders.

Nobody scored in the first quarter, but the Irish drew first blood with a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.

The Red Raiders then responded with six straight TDs and had a 42-7 lead at one point before winning comfortably, 42-21.

It was the season opener for both teams.  Central and Walker Valley were playing in the second game at Finley Thursday night.

“This is what this football team needed, to see exactly where we stand right now,” Fant said, not overly disappointed with the season-opening loss.

“We want to throw the ball this year, but Baylor did a great job of taking the long pass away and they were really good rallying to the ball.  I was really impressed with how they played.

“We made more than our share of mistakes and you can’t do that against a good team like Baylor.  But we kept competing and had a couple of big plays, but we don’t get any better by playing teams we can dominate and that’s why I was anxious to schedule a team like Baylor,” Fant added.

Tarik Nelson recovered a Baylor fumble after a pass reception to put Notre Dame in business at the Baylor 48.  A couple of 15-yard penalties moved the Irish into the Red Zone where Akil Sledge scored on an inside reverse from the 12 with six seconds elapsed in the second period.

Baylor coach Phil Massey wasn’t exactly excited over that series, but he felt like his kids responded in a positive way after falling behind.

“It’s the season opener and we have plenty of things to correct,” said Massey as he begins his 13th season as the Red Raider boss.

“I wasn’t happy at first, but we found our rhythm on offense and were able to turn things around.  We played with a lot of confidence after the interception by Jaylon Baker in the second quarter, but we were able to play a lot of guys and that was important with the heat and humidity.

“We had the lead at the half and we wanted to set the tempo in the third quarter.  But it was a complete team effort.  Those younger guys have to step up and be ready to play and most of them did tonight,” he concluded.

While Sledge gave Notre Dame the early lead, Baylor bounced back to knot the score.  It took six plays to march 80 yards and not quite three minutes as junior quarterback Lorenzo White hooked up with Baker on what turned out to be a 66-yard TD pass.

Three plays later, Baker intercepted a Landon Allen pass to shift the momentum and Baylor was in business once more at the 9 following a face mask call against the Irish.

Brendon Harris had four straight carries and scored from the 1 with 6:23 left in the second stanza.

Baylor then added its third TD of the quarter with four seconds left before intermission when Harris scored again from the 25.

The difference was 21-7 at the break.

The Red Raiders put the game away with three more TDs in the third stanza.

Mike Benning’s 46-yard run put the ball on the Notre Dame 24 before White connected with Clay Thames on the next play.

White had another big pass play, this one covering 41 yards to Dee Appleberry, to set up another TD by the Baylor QB on a keeper from the 3.

Then on Baylor’s next possession, White hooked up with Mekos Baker on a 15-yard scoring play for a 42-7 edge with 5:30 left in the third.

Notre Dame rallied with two long touchdown plays, the first one on a 57-yard pass from backup quarterback T.J. McGhee with 1:58 left in the third while Sledge broke free on a 65-yard TD scamper following a Baylor punt with 5:51 to play.

Baylor finished the game with 346 total yards while Notre Dame countered with 246.

Benning had 58 yards on four carries while Harris had 54 yards on 11 attempts as Baylor gained 158 yards on the ground.

The Red Raiders had 188 yards through the air with Baker’s 66-yarder being the longest.

Sledge had 86 yards in three carries as Notre Dame had 103 yards rushing.

Wynn had seven catches for 99 yards as the Irish had another 151 through the air.

Baylor had an 11-10 edge in first downs.

Baylor kicker Keegan Weekley booted all six extra points and all five of his kickoffs sailed into the end zone for touchbacks.  Sophomore Taylor Shahan kept that last streak alive as his only kickoff also sailed deep into the end zone.

Notre Dame will be on the road next week to face Trinity Academy while Baylor will be at home to face Knox Catholic.

BAYLOR  0  21  21  0  --  42

NOTRE DAME  0  7  7  7  --  21

ND – Akil Sledge 12 run (Hunter Hill kick), 11:54 left in second;

BAY – Jaylon Baker 66 pass from Lorenzo White (Keegan Weekley kick), 8:59 left in second;

BAY – Brendon Harris 2 run (Weekley kick), 6:23 left in second;

BAY – Harris 25 run (Weekley kick), :04 left in second;

BAY – Clay Thames 24 pass from White (Weekley kick), 10:40 left in third;

BAY – White 3 run (Weekley kick), 7:39 left in third;

BAY – Mekos Baker 15 pass from White (Weekley kick), 5:30 left in third;

ND – Cameron Wynn 57 pass from T.J. McGhee (Hill kick), 1:58 left in third;

ND – Sledge 65 run (Hill kick), 5:51 left in fourth.

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The Baylor defense proved tough all night. Here they bring down a Notre Dame rusher behind the line for no gain. The red Raiders defeated the Irish, 42-21.
The Baylor defense proved tough all night. Here they bring down a Notre Dame rusher behind the line for no gain. The red Raiders defeated the Irish, 42-21.
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood

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