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Cougars halt Baylor comeback in OT for first Big 12 road win

Donovan Smith threw four, two touchdowns and ran in the game-winning two-point conversion at Baylor. | Anh Le/The Cougar

Junior quarterback Donovan Smith clinched the Cougars’ first-ever Big 12 road win leading an overtime touchdown drive plus a two-point conversion. UH beat Baylor 25-24.

Baylor scored first in overtime with a one-yard touchdown run, giving the Bears their first lead of the game 24-17.

Set up at the Baylor 40 due to a penalty on the extra point, Smith led UH down the field to score a touchdown on a QB sneak. Head coach Dana Holgorsen elected to go for two and the win. Smith took the snap and kept the ball, running in the end zone for the win.

“We knew what play we were going to run. We didn’t even have to call it,” Holgorsen said after the game. “I wasn’t going to put our defense back out there.”

Up 17-10, after Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen threw an interception with five minutes to play and UH drove into field goal range, the Cougars seemed poised to close it out in regulation against the Bears.

However, junior kicker Jack Martin pushed his kick wide right, giving Baylor life with 2:51 left in the fourth quarter.

Shapen scrambled 27 yards on 4th-and-17 with under two minutes to play to get a first down and save the game for the Bears. Six plays later, Shapen found tight end Hawkins Polley for a goal-line touchdown pass, sending the game into overtime.

The Cougars held Baylor scoreless for over 40 minutes to begin the game.

Houston ended a scoreless stretch of nearly 90 minutes going to back the Texas game in the middle of the second quarter. Smith found sophomore wideout Samuel Brown for a 26-yard touchdown across the middle of the field to break a 0-0 tie.

Smith finished with 217 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and 58 rushing yards after throwing for just 88 yards last week.

“Just really proud of our kids after what happened last week,” Holgorsen said in reference to UH’s 41-0 loss to Kansas State. “Putting it to rest on Monday and just moving forward.”

Baylor missed two field goals in the first half, the first of which was on the game’s opening drive when junior defensive lineman Jamaree Caldwell tipped the ball. With under a minute to go, a Baylor touchdown catch was ruled incomplete after review, forcing a fourth down and subsequent field goal miss. UH maintained a 7-0 lead at halftime.

After a UH field goal to start the second half, Baylor finally got on the board with a 38-yard catch-and-run to receiver Drake Dabney that closed the gap 10-7 towards the end of the third quarter. The Bears tied it on their ensuing possession with their first successful field goal of the game.

Smith lobbed a pass 24 yards to senior running back Tony Mathis Jr. for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:28 to play. The play was Mathis’ first touchdown of the season.

Sophomore wideout Matthew Golden exited the game with a left foot injury and did not return. Golden along with fellow receiver Joseph Manjack, are all set to return next week, according to Holgorsen.

Junior defensive end Nelson Ceaser came back from missing last week’s game with an injury and logged a season-high 2.5 sacks.

“Good to have him back,” Holgorsen said.

Houston moved to 4-5 on the season and 2-3 in the Big 12. Baylor is the first in-state Big 12 opponent UH has beaten.

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