Shapen, Reese lead No. 17 Baylor to 42-7 win over Texas State

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WACO, Texas – Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen was racing untouched to the end zone while running back Richard Reese was being tackled in the backfield on fourth-and-1 just before halftime.

That bootleg was the punctuating touchdown for the 17th-ranked Bears, who beat Texas State 42-7 on Saturday and avoided becoming another Top 25 team to lose at home to a Sun Belt Conference team.

Shapen took off to the right after the fake handoff, and past an over-pursuing safety, for that 35-yard touchdown that came right after Texas State (1-2) had closed to 14-7 on Layne Hatcher‘s 12-yard touchdown pass to Ashtyn Hawkins with 1:59 left in the first half.

“Blake is comfortable getting out of the pocket that way,” Bears coach Dave Arada said. “They know it, we know it, and we still execute it. We need to get more things like that.”

It wrapped up a nine-play drive after the Bears (2-1) started at their own 4. Craig Williams, a fifth-year junior nicknamed “Sqwirl” who earlier ran 30 yards for a touchdown, had muffed the kickoff.

“Very pivotal moment for us,” Texas State coach Jake Spavital said. “We got it to a one-score game with the ball coming out in the second half.”

Reese, a true freshman, ran 19 times for 156 yards and three touchdowns. Shapen completed 15 of 26 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Baylor jumped in front when Reese went straight up the middle for a 14-yard TD on the game’s opening drive. He added scores of 52 and 5 yards in the fourth quarter, giving him five rushing TDs in the Bears’ two home games.

“We did start off a little shaky, slower than we would have liked to,” said receiver Gavin Holmes, who had a 28-yard TD catch after halftime. “But yeah, I think that two-minute drive kind of put us into gear for that second half.”

Texas State lost 29-20 at home to then-unranked Baylor in last season’s opener, but Shapen’s run before halftime Saturday pretty much ended any thought that the Bobcats could follow up last weekend’s Sun Belt upsets – Appalachian State at Texas A&M, and Marshall over Notre Dame.

Aranda still felt a nervous energy among his players in the locker room at halftime.

“The second quarter was that, we could feel some of that nervousness. … In a battle, trying to get it right and it’s not going right,” he said. “Some of the talks at halftime were that. I think some of what we were fighting was expectations, it’s supposed to be like this, or it used to be like that, and I have to do a better job of being out in front of that.”

NO TARGETING

Williams’ TD run in the second quarter came on the first snap after Shapen returned to the field after having to sit out a play because his helmet came off after a tackle. There was initially a targeting penalty on that tackle, but that was taken away after replay review, and backup quarterback Kyron Drones came on to throw a 10-yard pass.

MISSING STARTERS

Baylor was without three starting skill players on offense. Tight end Ben Sims, running back Taye McWilliams and receiver Monaray Baldwin were in concussion protocol this week. Aranda said the Bears are “hopeful” of having them back next week.

Even without Sims, three of Shapen’s five completions on the opening drive of the game went to three different tight ends.

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas State: Hatcher and Hawkins hooked up for 29 yards on the first play of the second half, but that drive ended with a lost fumble. “Kind of the landslide started to happen right there,” Spavital said.

The Bobcats, who are 0-10 against Top 25 opponents since becoming an FBS team in 2012, twice failed on fourth-down tries in the first half. After they converted on fourth down in the third quarter, their field goal attempt four plays later was blocked.

Baylor: It was a lethargic start in the nonconference finale for the Bears, who kicked off just after 11 a.m. local time, a week after their double-overtime loss at No. 12 BYU ended after midnight in Utah and they didn’t get back to Waco until about sunrise Sunday. They finally took over after halftime and, even with a lost fumble and failed fourth-down conversion, closed out the lopsided victory and had 509 total yards.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Baylor, which dropped eight spots last week after the BYU loss, should be in about the same spot in the new poll after winning a game it was supposed to win.

UP NEXT

Texas State: Hosts Houston Baptist in its last nonconference game next Saturday night.

Baylor: At Iowa State (3-0) next Saturday for its Big 12 opener.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.