KNOXVILLE – Baylor knew it would have its hands full travelling to Knoxville and facing the defending DII-A state champions, Knoxville Webb, a 12-1 squad in 2012 that returns Tennessee commitment Todd Kelly this season.
The Red Raiders were even more surprised that they had to play over half the game without their head coach.
But, despite an early deficit and the ejection of Baylor coach Phillip Massey in the second quarter, Baylor still prevailed 21-7 on Friday night at Webb (0-2) to move to 2-0 on the young season.
Massey, a 28-year coaching veteran, was forced to leave the game after the sideline was flagged for two penalties. TSSAA rules mandate that the head coach is ejected in that scenario, whether he was involved in the violations or not. In this case, Massey was not.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen it happened,” Massey said. “The first one, one of the officials bumped into one of our coaches and then it happened again. To me, it wasn’t like he was on the field, he was on the sideline and he might’ve been out of the coaches’ box, but to me, I thought it was just a very quick decision.
“When you think about the spirit of the law, and I understand why those rules are put in effect, to keep coaches off the playing field, but I thought it was maybe taken just a little too far. But they called it, it happened and I had to pay the penalty.”
More confusion arose after the ejection. Unaware of the rules, Massey headed to the press box to view the rest of the game. Officials had to stop the game to discuss protocol in this rarely-scene scenario. Massey eventually was told to leave the viewing area of the field and Baylor wasn’t assessed any further penalty.
The Raiders fell in a 7-0 hole early when Kelly took a handoff around right end, sliced through the Baylor secondary and raced for a 58-yard score on the Spartans’ first possession.
Baylor’s defense stiffened after that point, though. The Raiders kept Kelly and the rest of Webb’s offense relatively in check for the final three quarters.
“We read our keys,” said sophomore defensive end Ryan Parker, who recorded a pair of sacks on the evening. “Our keys were the key. In the first quarter we were running way outside of where we were supposed to go and then we just sucked it back in and we were able to make plays.
“Once [Kelly] got that first touchdown, we clinched down on him and we went inside and just hit him straight up.”
With Webb somewhat neutralized offensively, the Baylor offense then took over in the second half, scoring three touchdowns and ending the game on a 21-0 run. That was in large part thanks to senior running back George Porter, who finished with 182 yards on the evening and had touchdown runs of 13, 7 and 4 yards.
His final score put Baylor up 21-7 with 3:48 left in the game, essentially ending any hope of a Webb comeback.
“He’s done an excellent job,” Massey said of Porter. “He’s got some guys up front that create those holes, but he ran hard and he’s done that all fall so far. The first guy that hits him doesn’t necessarily bring him down.”
The Baylor players said the ejection helped unite the team in the face of adversity, helping spark the comeback.
“That rallied us more than wore us down,” said Parker. “As soon as he was gone, our team pulled together and we were able to get the win.”
Added Porter: “That’s crazy. That’s never happened. That made me want it more. That’s my coach. We had a long bus ride from Chattanooga, coach had been kicked out, we got spanked in the first half, but then we just did what we had to do.”
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