HOUSTON, Texas -- Baylor and Vanderbilt gave Texas Bowl crowd at NRG Stadium and the viewing audience on TV everything it could have hoped for in a thriller on Thursday night.
Baylor made the final winning move in a game defined by dynamic and consistently powerful plays as walk-on receiver Marques Jones caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Brewer with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, lifting the Bears to a 45-38 victory.
Baylor (7-6) finished its impressive bowl win with 668 total offensive yards, including 284 rushing and 384 passing. Baylor went 5 for 5 in fourth-down conversions with a total 30 first-downs. Brewer was voted MVP finishing the game with two touchdowns, 16 rushes for 124 yards and 21 pass completions for 384 yards.
The first half finished with Vanderbilt in the lead 21-17. The Commodores remained explosive throughout with all three touchdowns resulting from 60-plus-yard plays. Running back Khari Blasingame caught a 65-yard pass from QB Kyle Shurmer within the first minute of the game to give Vanderbilt the lead. Baylor answered with a 33-yard field goal by kicker Connor Martin and a 12-yard rushing touchdown on fourth-and-one by running back John Lovett.
Vanderbilt quickly reclaimed the lead with a 68-yard run by running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (10-14 Vanderbilt). Baylor pushed down the field at the open of the second quarter with running back JaMycal Hasty scoring for Baylor with an 18-yard rush which was quickly answered by Vaughn’s 69-yard touchdown run. Vanderbilt ended the first half with a four-point lead despite Baylor having twice the possession time.
Baylor ended the first half with 43 offensive plays for 289 total offensive yards compared to Vanderbilt’s 30 plays for 298 yards. Brewer led passing with 11 completions and 15 attempts for 153 yards.
The second half kicked off with a 34-yard rush by running back Trestan Ebner bringing the score to 24-21 Bears. Vanderbilt struggled to keep Brewer in the pocket and payed for it with a 1-yard sneak that solidified a 10-point lead for Baylor. Blasingame helped to close that gap with his second touchdown of the game, a 2-yard run in the last 20 seconds of the third quarter.
An interception by defensive back Randall Haynie in Baylor’s end zone and a 66-yard rush by Vaughn led to a 1-yard touchdown by Blasingame gaining Vanderbilt the lead 35-31.
Baylor answered within 12 seconds with a 75-yard pass by Brewer that connected with Ebner bringing the score to 38-35 Baylor.
A 33-yard field goal by Commodores kicker Ryley Guay tied the game in the last three minutes at 38-38.