Baylor running back George Porter doesn’t like sitting on the sidelines, watching. That’s exactly what the 5-foot-9, 181-pound senior was doing for the entire second half of the Red Raiders’ 58-19 win over Brainerd, though.
“Man I was fiendin’ for it,” Porter said. “To be honest, you hate it. Sometimes you want the ball, but at the same time, when the coaches make decisions like that, you’ve got to live with it.
“Football’s a team game — it’s about the team.”
And while Porter ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 12 first-half carries, his teammates — pretty much all of them — got in on the action as well. By the time Baylor had emptied its bench in the closing minutes, it’d scored eight touchdowns and piled up more than 500 yards of total offense.
A great deal of that came from the Red Raiders’ reserves, too.
“We got everybody in the game,” Baylor coach Phil Massey said. “I was really proud of our young kids who got in there and got a lot of snaps in the second half. They really showed that they’re working hard and competing for playing time. That’s what you want, guys competing to make each other better.”
Freshman running back Kalvin Watson ran for 71 yards and a score on five carries, while sophomore Adrian Harris added 65 yards and a third-quarter touchdown run from seven yards out.
“For us to get better, we’ve got to get better as individuals,” Massey said. “Those are some good young kids that are going to be good players for us.”
Brainerd’s Brian Gwyn wasn’t quite as positive after the loss, but the first-year head coach was far from pessimistic. The Panthers showed some good things, like quarterback Sam Caffey’s performance — he completed 17-of-21 attempts for 188 yards and a pair of touchdown passes — but they were overshadowed by his team's mental mistakes."
“We were looking to build on [last week’s 20-18 loss at Red Bank],” Gwyn said. “I think we took a step back from last week, but we’ve just got to go back, watch the film and get ready for next week.
“We’ve got to stop making mental errors and make sure we’re focusing on the entire offensive scheme and not just zooming in on one person. As soon as we get that worked out I think we’ll have some success. But we’ve got to go back, look at the film and see the mistakes we made offensively and especially defensively.”
That defense Gwyn's referring to was nearly non-existent early on.
Porter and junior quarterback Nick Tiano both scored on 10-yard touchdown runs, spotting the Red Raiders a two-score advantage with 9:03 remaining in the opening quarter, and senior kicker Rafael Gaglianone connected on a 43-yard attempt to increase his team’s lead to 17-0.
After that, though, the scoring slowed. For a while, at least.
“[The quick start] was good, but we didn’t continue that,” Massey said. “We got in a rut. We had some dropped balls that would have been touchdowns. In a close football game, against the teams in our league, we can’t make those mistakes and overcome them ... We’ve got to get better in those areas.”
Baylor (3-1), which travels to DII-AA foe Pope John Paul II next week, dropped a pair of would-be touchdown passes in the first half, and Gaglianone’s third extra-point attempt of the evening was blocked. First-half penalties were also a problem early.
“I was disappointed in some of the mistakes we were making, and we’ve got to do a better job of eliminating those — proper alignment, penalties,” Massey said. “Those can make a difference in a close ball game.”
Brainerd finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter, as Caffey connected with sophomore receiver LaTony Ward on a 51-yard scoring strike, and the Panthers added another touchdown before the break, as Caffey found junior Kaylen Stewart in the end zone from 27 yards out, reducing his team’s deficit to 37-12 at the half.
And while Porter, who has now run for 673 yards and nine touchdowns through the first four games, would have loved to get in on some of the second-half action, he’s plenty content with the win. Especially after last week’s 28-14 loss to Montgomery Bell Academy — the team's first of 2013.
“It really was great,” he said. “We came out and did what we had to do. We really fought the best we could against MBA. We made some mistakes, but I really think as the season goes we’ll grow and get better. I’m sure we’ll see them again in the playoffs.”
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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