Nick Florence passed for three touchdowns and set up another with a 60-yard run as Baylor needed a second-half rally to beat Sam Houston State 48-23 on Saturday night.
Florence threw touchdowns to Jordan Najvar and Terrence Williams in the third quarter as Baylor (2-0) erased a 20-10 halftime deficit. His 60-yard run in the fourth set up Glasco Martin's 5-yard touchdown after Sam Houston State (1-1), which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, had pulled within 24-23.
Baylor had a bye week after its season-opening win over SMU and got a slow start against the upset-minded Bearkats, who played for the FCS championship last season and clearly weren't intimidated by a Big 12 opponent.
After stopping a Baylor fake punt, the Bearkats dropped two potential touchdown passes in the end zone before settling for the first of Miguel Antonio's three field goals that made it 3-3.
Bell led Sam Houston State on two long touchdown drives in the second quarter. Bell scored on a 1-yard sneak and a 26-yard TD pass to Tim Flanders that stunned the home crowd of 44,856 that was still being treated to highlights of former Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy last season. Bearkats cornerback Dax Swanson intercepted a pass intended for Williams at the goal line at the end of the first half.
Florence passed for 269 yards in the first half, but the Bears struggled to find any rhythm against an aggressive Bearkats defense that had two sacks in the half and put him on the ground several more times. Three Baylor drives in the first half ended in a missed field goal, a failed fake punt and the interception in the final seconds.
The Baylor defense made the play that turned the game around for the Bears early in the third.
Terrance Lloyd sacked Bell, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Trevor Clemons-Valdez at the Sam Houston State nine. Florence found Najvar wide open in the flat on the next play for an easy touchdown that pulled the Bears within 20-17.
Baylor grabbed the lead at 24-20 when Florence found Williams for their second touchdown connection. The throw split two defenders and Williams tip-toed in the back of the end zone to keep one foot in bounds for a legal catch.
The Bearkats bumbled away a big chance at the start of the fourth quarter. Trey Diller's 55-yard punt return set up the Bearkats inside the Baylor 10. But on fourth down at the Baylor one, Bell tripped and fell coming out of the snap, downing the ball at the Baylor 5-yard line.