The large breeze that blew through Heywood Stadium around 10:10 on Friday night wasn't wind-related -- rather, a collective sigh of relief coming from the home side of the stadium.
Baylor built up a 24-point lead going into halftime, only to watch McCallie's Blue Tornado storm back with 21 unanswered points. The Red Raiders needed a fourth-down stop with 25 seconds to go but held on to win 34-28 Friday night in the annual rivalry game.
The Division II-AA top-ranked Red Raiders improved to 6-0 on the season and 3-0 in the East/Middle Region, while the Tornado dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the league.
Baylor led 34-7 with 6:44 to go in the third quarter after a 52-yard field goal by Henrique Ribeiro, but the McCallie offense -- held to 77 yards of total offense in the first half -- woke up and had three consecutive scoring drives. The Tornado scored on touchdown runs by Daniel McClure and Trent Lusk and a 70-yard pass from Lusk to Jack Williamson that cut the lead to 34-28 with 5:08 to go.
McCallie got the ball back with 3:51 remaining on its own 19-yard line and reached the Baylor 40 before a fourth-down pass by Lusk fell incomplete. Baylor dodged a bullet on a second-down play, when Samir Usman dropped a pass on a wheel route with a 2-yard advantage on his defender.
"That was definitely a crazy game," said Baylor lineman Barrett Gouger, who had a big tackle of McClure on the previous play. "It turned into a really good game. We realized that we couldn't let the momentum get to us.
"We had to be successful and get the win, and we did."
Baylor erupted for 306 yards of total offense in the first half but was held to 52 in the second half.
"I think we played the first half like we weren't sure what was going on," McCallie coach Bubba Simmons said. "I challenged the guys to go play; it would have been easy to give up, but we kept fighting."
The Red Raiders scored on all five possessions in the first half. Ribeiro had a 42-yard field goal, and Baylor scored touchdowns on its next four possession. Matthew Oellerich had TD passes to Jeffery Bowens and Charbo Clark while running for a score himself, and George Porter had a 4-yard run.
McCallie's lone scoring drive of the first half covered 55 yards, and Baylor had a pair of personal fouls and a pass interference on the drive. Lusk ultimately scored on a 5-yard run.
Porter had 100 yards rushing to lead the Red Raiders, while Oellerich threw for 140 and rushed for 58. McClure's 93 yards rushing paced McCallie, while Lusk threw for 97 and ran for 43. Usman rushed for 78 yards for the Tornado.
"In the first half, our rhythm was good and we were clicking on offense," Baylor coach Phil Massey said. "In the second half, the momentum had swung in their favor, and then I got conservative and thought I could lean on my senior offensive line to help us eat up some clock.
"We were fortunate enough that the defense responded and got the stop at the end."