WACO, Texas (AP) — John Mayers kicked a 38-yarder with 21 seconds left for the first field goal of the redshirt freshman’s career, lifting Baylor to a 23-21 victory over Iowa State on Saturday after the Bears blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The win in the Big 12 opener for both teams was the second in a row for the Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12), who won their sixth straight game going back to last season and are off to their best start in three years under coach Matt Rhule.
Brock Purdy rallied the Cyclones (2-2, 0-1) with three TD drives after trailing 20-0 in the fourth quarter. But Iowa State couldn’t stop Baylor’s 54-yard drive to the winning points while losing a Big 12 opener for the 16th time in 18 seasons — including all four under coach Matt Campbell.
The Bears fell behind for the first time this season on Purdy’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Kolar with less than four minutes to go.
Charlie Brewer answered with three third-down conversions on the 14-play march, which included completions of 15 and 13 yards to Tyquan Thornton. Mayers’ kick into the wind was just inside the right post after he missed badly from the same distance — 38 yards — in the first half.
“Gotta make a play,” Campbell said. “It’s the story of our two losses. The story of our two wins, we made plays. The story of our two losses, in the heat of the moment, we’ve got to make a play.”
Baylor was behind because of a botched PAT attempt after the second of three touchdown passes from Brewer when the snap went through holder Skyler Wetzel’s hands.
“I was just kind of reluctant just because of the wind and all that stuff, I didn’t want to keep putting the kid out there,” Rhule said. “But you know what, to his credit he went out there and made that kick.”
Thornton had 11 catches for 141 yards and the last Baylor touchdown. Denzel Mims scored the first TDs and had 106 yards on six grabs.
After a rough start, Purdy finished 27 of 45 for 342 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Johnnie Lang had a touchdown rushing and another receiving.
Iowa State: Purdy’s recovery a week after accounting for six touchdowns in a 72-20 loss to Louisiana-Monroe reversed what was looking like a miserable day. Still, the Cyclones will feel like they let one get away after they thought they had stolen one.
Baylor: Instead of what would have been the worst loss under Rhule, the Bears have momentum in the Big 12 race. The Bears also avoided ending Rhule’s 35-game winning streak when the coach’s team was tied or leading going in the fourth quarter, including his Temple tenure.
Iowa State: TCU at home next Saturday.
Baylor: At Kansas State next Saturday.