WACO, Texas (AP) — Charlie Brewer threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns in barely more than a half, Trestan Ebner scored three times and Baylor handed Stephen F. Austin its seventh straight season-opening loss with a 56-17 victory Saturday night.
Ebner had the highlight of the game, and the play that put the Bears in control for good, when he reversed field on a pitch with most of the SFA defense closing in and weaved the final few yards on a 21-yard score for a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Lumberjacks scored against the Bears for the first time in a series that dates to 1928, although it was only the fifth meeting. In just the second game between the Texas schools since 1947, quarterback Trae Self ran 3 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Stephen F. Austin got the ball back trailing 14-7 after Self’s score, but his pass was intercepted by Blake Lynch, who partially blocked a punt on the opening series. Ebner’s highlight-reel TD came six plays after Lynch’s interception.
Ebner’s other touchdowns were also in the first half on a 16-yard pass from Brewer and an 11-yard run. R.J. Sneed had a pair of TD catches with a team-leading 57 yards receiving.
Brewer’s last play capped the first series of the second half — a 21-yard scoring pass to Sneed right on the pylon at the goal line. It was ruled incomplete and overturned on replay with 13:40 left in the third quarter.
John Lovett ran for 108 yards on eight carries, including a 19-yard touchdown to give Baylor a 35-7 halftime lead. The Bears have won all five games in the series by at least 31 points.
The Lumberjacks, who haven’t won their opener since beating Division II Southwestern Oklahoma 49-14 in 2012, got another touchdown late on Josh McGowen’s 1-yard run. Self was 15 of 29 for 140 yards with an interception.
SFA: It wasn’t a horrific debut for coach Colby Carthel, who went 59-18 with a Division II national championship in six seasons at Texas A&M-Commerce. Considering the Lumberjacks are coming off a 2-8 season that was their worst since going winless in 2007, there’s something to build on. The drive to the first-ever score against Baylor covered 75 yards, starting with a 26-yard completion to Xavier Gipson, who had 61 yards receiving.
Baylor: Coach Matt Rhule got the focus he wanted from the Bears now that the program is back in a position to be expected to win this sort of opener handily. Baylor took a quick lead, never trailed and was on its way to victory well before halftime. There were no such expectations in his debut two years ago with the school not far removed from a wide-ranging sexual assault scandal that led to the firing of coach Art Briles. The Bears were stunned by Liberty 48-45 in the 2017 opener.
SFA: Tarleton State in the home opener in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches next Saturday.
Baylor: UTSA visits next Saturday as the teams play for third straight year after splitting the first two. The Roadrunners pulled a big upset in Rhule’s second game with the Bears two years ago, when Baylor finished 1-11.