WACO — For the amount of time the ball hung in the air, no one inside Floyd Casey Stadium took a breath.
After a 45-minute rain delay extended halftime, there weren’t many people left, anyway, but Michael Cummings’ pass to Chris Omigie nearly 50 yards downfield sucked the air right out of the stadium.
The result sucked the air right out of the Kansas Jayhawks’ hope for a Big 12 win this season.
Omigie bobbled the pass twice, and Baylor corner Joe Williams landed with it at the Kansas 5; the Bears never looked back and Kansas never recovered as Baylor rolled to a 41-14 win to snap its four-game losing streak on Saturday.
“I’m sure everybody took a deep breath because we were expecting a big play on that,” said Cummings, the former Killeen quarterback who made his third straight start for Kansas. “We might have been disappointed at the point in time, but in football, you’ve just got to keep moving on to the next play. I feel like we did that.”
But Kansas didn’t.
While the Bears (4-4, 1-4 Big 12) didn’t capitalize on that interception, Cummings threw another on the Jayhawks’ next series and Baylor quarterback Nick Florence gave the Bears a 34-14 lead with 2:24 left in the third quarter with his 11-yard touchdown run.
Florence completed 26 of 42 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns and Glasco Martin and former Temple standout Lache Seastrunk combined for 260 of the Bears’ 299 rushing yards to win their first Big 12 game this season.
“This is the best I have felt in a month, and so will our guys. I wish I was being funny,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “This just gives you a good feeling. ... We have not made the ball bounce our way the last few weeks. We would love for this to take off and go. You have to get one before you can get two, and we got one tonight.”
Kansas (1-8, 0-6) fell behind 14-0 in the first five minutes of the game, but rallied with rushing scores by Cummings and James Sims and trailed just 20-14 at halftime.
Cummings completed 9 of 18 passes for 81 yards and two interceptions and ran four times for 33 yards. Sims ran for 136 yards on 20 carries.
“The way the game started, it looked like it could’ve gotten ugly real early. But, the team toughed it out, James came and hit that big run to get it to 14-7,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “Obviously, it’s the second time we’ve had a rain delay and come out in the third quarter and things didn’t go so well.”
Florence completed a 43-yard pass to Terrance Williams to the Kansas 1 and backup quarterback Bryce Petty scored on a 1-yard push to give the Bears a 27-14 lead early in the third quarter. The Jayhawks received the second half-opening kickoff, but Taylor Cox was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-2 sweep play to the Kansas sideline before the Bears’ score.
“That little sequence, from getting stopped on fourth down, to them scoring, to us bouncing right back ... instead of it being a one-score game, it’s an interception,” Weis said. “They change the field and they go down and score and now it’s a three-score game. Everything changed in a hurry in that little sequence.”
Florence threw two touchdown passes, including a 68-yarder to Seastrunk, in the first quarter and Aaron Jones kicked a pair of field goals in the second quarter for Baylor’s 20-14 lead at halftime.
“It just makes us a bigger threat because we have the greatest wide receivers in the country,” Seastrunk said. “Glasco calls us Thunder and Lightning. So, if you want to get you a little bit of thunder and a little bit of lightning, then lightning actually struck, literally.”
Sims’ 58-yard rushing touchdown cut the Bears’ lead to 14-7 midway through the first quarter and Cummings’ first career rushing touchdown trimmed the lead even further to 17-14 with 5:46 left before halftime.
“I felt like we were going to turn the corner at that point,” Cummings said. “I felt like it was going to lead to bigger plays down the stretch, but it didn’t work out like that.”
Cummings had an 8-yard touchdown throw to Kale Pick called back by an offensive pass interference call and Blake Jablonski was dropped for a 1-yard loss on Kansas’ fake 30-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter that was a judgement call, Weis said, by the players on the field.
“We’re striding, trying to make an effort to do better in the second half, put more points in the second half, so we’ve just got to keep working towards that goal,” Cummings said of the Jayhawks’ lack of scoring. “You’ve got to put up points to win in the Big 12. And that’s something we’re struggling to do right now, something we need to improve on.”