Defense does just enough to allow Texas to slip by Baylor, improve to 5-2

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Sophomore running back Joe Bergeron scores a touchdown against Baylor on Saturday night. Bergeron had 117 yards and five touchdowns, a career-high and one short of Ricky Williams’ record, against the Bears.  He averaged 6.2 yards per carry.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorn defense wasn’t elite, good or even average, but the highly criticized group played well enough down the stretch to propel Texas to a victory.

Texas’ defense was pounded, again, for 607 yards, and, at times, looked as inept as the numbers show. However, a pair of huge turnovers plus a few timely stops allowed the Longhorns to edge out Baylor and their No. 1 ranked offense.

“We knew going into the game that they were going to make plays, so we looked at it as a game of stops,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “The two turnovers and holding them to three field goals were just crucial.”

The biggest momentum swing of the contest for the defense came with a few seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Longhorns were up by six after a three-and-out — a tough scenario in a game that was based on score-for-score jabs — and the Bears were driving into Texas territory.

But it was at that moment that a pair of sophomore’s made an upperclassmen level play. Baylor called a dive up the middle for Glasco Martin, and when he hit the hole, Steve Edmond was there to meet him. The pair clashed in the gap and Edmond knocked the ball away.

“I put my head on the ball and it popped out,” Edmond said. “I didn’t even know I made him fumble. Everybody just started screaming, I was like ‘What is going on?’ until I saw the replay.”

Newly-minted starter Mykkele Thompson pounced on it and Texas took over in Baylor territory. Texas later scored what turned out to be the game-winning score on a 15-yard touchdown catch by Mike Davis.

The defense wasn’t done. The group held Baylor’s explosive group to seven points in the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns gave up more than 600 yards but it was a bend-but-not-break performance at its finest.

“We have faced some of the top offenses in the nation, so these guys are going to put up stats,” cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “The main thing for us is to limit as much as we can, but then again, at the end of the day, all it comes down to is if we win.”

After Texas’ performance the previous week, the offense was brilliant. David Ash played turnover-free and was supported by a punishing running game — most of which came from 6-foot-1, 230-pound bruiser Joe Bergeron. He could not be slowed down near the goal line, bowling people over en route to running for five touchdowns during his 117-yard outburst.

“I see the crease, I see the touchdown, I see the goal line and that is really it,” Bergeron said. “It’s just a blur. If anybody else comes within that vision, you just punish them. That’s what you do on goal lines.”

Bergeron provided most of the fireworks for the Texas offense, but the first play from scrimmage created the spark for Texas’ 56-point outburst.

The Longhorns, for the first time all season, choose to receive the opening kickoff instead of sending their defense out first, and it paid dividends. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin called a play for electric freshman Daje Johnson, and he made the most of it.

Johnson burst through the hole on the right side and from there his sprinter-like speed took over. Johnson ran untouched up the sideline for the 84-yard touchdown, and even had time to turn around and take in the scenery — the pursuit was that far behind.

“Once he [Johnson] gets in the open field, he is capable of doing great things for us and the play was huge,” Harsin said. “We wanted to start fast. We took the ball and wanted to get out there, and to get a score was huge.”

Printed on Monday, October 22, 2012 as: Horns triumph in shootout