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.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.