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Red River - Baylor Close, Sooners Roll, Tigers Pounce

College Men

Red River - Baylor Close, Sooners Roll, Tigers Pounce

Baylor made a bit of a statement this weekend in the Red River as they downed Texas A&M in a very close game to move to 4-1 and make the conference a three-horse race.

Baylor got an early try from hooker Jonathan Cooper, which flyhalf Parker Vincent converted, for a 7-0 lead. A&M battled back and scored a try and then a penalty from center Ross Navarro. That gave the Aggies a slim 8-7 lead at halftime. But in the second half, the Baylor defense shut A&M down, and Vincent added a penalty to nudge his side ahead. Later in the game wing Tobechukwu Nduubuisi-Ulokwem scored the try that would seal the game at 15-8.

For Baylor Coach Mason Hering, it was a big win, "probably our biggest of the season. We know we have to win out to have a shot at the conference title and this was certainly a big test for us against a quality A&M side. In the end our relentless defense was the key to victory. Our line speed and aggression in the contact area proved to be too much for a skillful Aggie team. They scored off a lost scrum where they quickly spun it wide and we weren't able to adjust from attack to defense quick enough."

That miscue, along with giving up a penalty right in front of the posts, were really their worst defensive moments. However, Baylor did need some big cover tackles and defensive stands to keep A&M out of the try zone.

Sophomore center Stewart Morris, along with Nduubuisi-Ulokwem, a freshman in his first start, were defensive standouts.

Baylor's attack came from the forwards, who controlled much of the possession. A&M's defense was pretty strong, too, and it look a ton of work from the likes of Senior No. 8 Pete Hamm and senior lock Erriton Fuller to get some go-forward.

"This team is gritty and willing to do the hard work to grind out a victory with whatever it takes," said Hering. "Sometimes the wins aren't flashy but at the end of the day we are still walking away victorious. Baylor Rugby is starting to turn some heads around the country but we still play like there's a giant chip on our shoulder. We relish being overlooked or disrespected. It makes earning their respect on the field that much sweeter."

At 4-1, Baylor is right in the mix, although it's interesting to note that their four wins have been by 1, 3, 5, and 7 points. Oklahoma is also 4-1 after beating Texas Tech 42-10. Once again, scrumhalf Manny Soto was in the middle of the action, scoring three tries and generally making a pest of himself. Wing Philip Rice, No. 8 Luis Nunez, center Luke Prosense, fullback Will Neff, and sub back Robert Hiles all touched down for the Sooners. And LSU is 4-0 and got there in emphatic fashion, thrashing Houston 129-0. 

Ten different Tigers scored tries, with No. 8 Todd Dupre getting four, and fullback Cameron Troxler, flanker Brennan Falcon, flyhalf John Crilly, scrumhalf Michael Lloyd, center Trevor O'Neill, and back Michael Owens all scoring twice. Wing Alec Miller scored 19 points before ceding the kicking duties to hooker Hunter Breit, who slotted ten for 20 points of his own.

It was a dominant performance, for sure. 

With the Red River schedules being a little uneven, there's a North Division of five teams and a South of four teams. To even out the schedule, TCU plays every team once, whether in the North or the South. Currently, Oklahoma leads the North, but the Sooners will face Baylor Feb. 18 in a game that should decide who wins that division. 

With LSU's win and A&M losing, LSU is in command in the South, but the Tigers will have Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Houston left on the schedule.

Here are the standings as best we can figure:

Red River North W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
Oklahoma 4 1 0 213 69 144 5 1 22
Baylor 4 1 0 70 96 -26 1 0 17
Texas Tech 1 3 0 92 153 -61 2 1 7
Texas 1 2 0 84 97 -13 1 0 5
TCU 1 2 0 46 139 -93 1 0 5
                   
Red River South W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
LSU 4 0 0 275 38 237 4 0 20
Texas A&M 2 2 0 179 56 123 3 1 12
Arkansas 1 3 0 101 96 5 1 1 6
Houston 0 4 0 34 290 -256 1 0 1