Baylor overcomes 28-point deficit, miraculously beats UCF 36-35 with huge second-half comeback

Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen engineered the biggest comeback in program history by rallying from 28 down to beat UCF 36-35 on Saturday. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Already 1-3 to start the year, things were looking extremely bleak for Baylor on Saturday on the road against UCF.

It was UCF’s home debut as a member of the Big 12, and the Knights jumped on the Bears early. UCF scored touchdowns on its first three possessions while Baylor sputtered. By halftime, BU was trailing 28-7.

That deficit grew to 35-7 by the midway point of the third quarter, but then the improbable happened. Baylor somehow managed to storm all the way back to win 36-35 by scoring the game’s final 29 points. It completed the largest comeback in program history.

The winning score was a 25-yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins with 1:21 to play. And on the ensuing drive, Baylor got the game-winning stop after allowing one of the wildest fourth-down conversions you will ever see.

It was fourth-and-6 for UCF from its own 30-yard line. On the play, UCF quarterback Timmy McClain scrambled all the way back into his own end zone before somehow finding RJ Harvey for a first-down conversion.

After such a wild play, Baylor’s defense somehow was able to remain poised. UCF would gain only 13 more yards on the drive and was forced to try a 59-yard field goal to win the game. Colton Boomer’s attempt was short, and Baylor remarkably escaped with a victory.

Baylor trailed 35-7 in the third quarter

To get there, Baylor had to chip away in the third quarter. The Bears tacked on a field goal to make it 35-10 late in the third before the offense got hot in the fourth. Blake Shapen, making his first start at quarterback since injuring his knee in Week 1, started picking the UCF defense apart.

Baylor scored on back-to-back drives, both of which spanned fewer than three minutes. All of a sudden, with 9:38 to go, Baylor was within 35-26.

That’s when disaster struck for UCF. The Knights drove to Baylor’s 25, but Harvey fumbled the wildcat snap. The ball bounced off another UCF player and Baylor’s Caden Jenkins scooped it up and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown.

Following that crazy play and an extra point, UCF’s lead was just 35-33 with 6:02 to play. The momentum was wholly on Baylor’s side, and the BU defense then quickly forced UCF to punt, opening the door for the Bears to complete the comeback.

Shapen found Monaray Baldwin for a 36-yard gain for the biggest play of the drive and then Hankins hit the 25-yard game-winning field goal with 1:21 to play.

With that field goal and the subsequent defensive stop, Baylor’s incredible 28-point comeback was complete.

A much-needed win for Baylor coach Dave Aranda

It was a much-needed win for Baylor coach Dave Aranda. The Bears closed out the 2022 season with four straight losses and then lost to all three FBS opponents they had played so far in 2023. The team’s lone win came over Long Island, an FCS program that went 4-7 last year.

Things had been really, really ugly and things were beginning to heat up for Aranda. This could be the kind of win that turns the entire season around for Baylor.

Now 2-3, BU will return home to face Texas Tech next week. UCF, meanwhile, has to get up off the mat and head to Kansas. The Knights dropped to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in Big 12 play with the loss.