Baylor never matched the emotion of last week's win over rival McCallie and couldn't match the size advantage up front for Murfreesboro Oakland.
That combination, plus three turnovers and one very costly penalty in the first half, added up to a 31-7 whipping at the hands of Class 6A's second-ranked Patriots.
"We tried to preach to the kids about not being flat because we could sense it at practice all week," Red Raiders coach Phil Massey said. "I don't think the guys realized just how good this team we were playing actually was and how well we would have to play just to compete with them.
"Our first drive came pretty easy, and that didn't help build any competitive fire in our guys. That's an outstanding team we played and we were going to have a tough time regardless, but you can't make the mistakes we did and expect to win."
After needing just eight plays to cover 80 yards on the game's opening possession, capped by George Porter's 14-yard scoring run, the Baylor offense was stifled the rest of the night. Oakland (7-0) held Division II's second-ranked Raiders to 88 total yards after their first drive, outgaining them 349-168.
"We knew it would be a hard-fought game and that we had to make some stops," said Oakland junior linebacker Josh Smith, who already has SEC scholarship offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Kentucky. "After their first drive, we knew it was up to us as a defense to step up and take control."
The game's momentum shifted dramatically late in the second quarter. Baylor blocked a punt inside the Patriots' 20-yard line, trailing just 9-7, but was penalized for having 12 men on the field. That proved to be a 14-point swing as Oakland, given new life, continued the drive and scored on Fredarius Wade's 2-yard run with just 31 seconds left before halftime.
Baylor's first two series of the second half also proved disastrous as Oakland stopped one drive when Eric Abernathy intercepted Nick Tiano at the Patriots' 14, then put the game away when Josh Cunningham returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
"This will be a good character test to see how we respond after this," Massey said. "We've got some really tough league games coming up, so we have to come back to work and get better."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...