Mustang ex tops Big 12 defenders
Former West Orange-Stark standout Travon Blanchard, a defensive back at Baylor, was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after a standout performance against Oklahoma State Saturday. He was a two-time all-stater for the WO-S Mustangs in 2011-12.
For The Record
A knee injury kept Travon Blanchard from playing in Baylor University’s first two games this season.
But boy, did the junior from Orange play in the next two.
The two-time all-state player for West Orange-Stark was named Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his 11-tackle effort in Saturday’s 35-24 win over Oklahoma State in Waco. That was after the nickel back made nine stops in his first start, the week before against Rice.
The Bears are off to a 4-0 start and ranked No. 13 in both major polls.
And for that, they can thank Blanchard, who made a game-turning play with under 10 minutes left in the final quarter and Baylor holding a 28-24 lead.
Oklahoma State, which dominated time of possession, its offenses running off 101 total plays against the Bears, had already put together drives of 16 plays, 11 plays and seven plays in the second half. This time the Cowboys drove 76 yards on six plays and OSU running back Justice Hill was being tackled at the Bear 1-yard line when Blanchard went to work.
He punched the ball loose from Hill and then pounced on the ball at the 1 for a Baylor recovery. Hill was originally ruled down before the fumble, but replay overturned that call.
The Bears sealed the win with a 99-yard drive.
“Take your opportunities,” Blanchard said after the game. “At the very last second, I was able to get a really good punch on the ball. That was really a big stop for our defense.”
Blanchard’s big day against OSU included a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss. He was also credited with a pass breakup and one quarterback hurry.
The 4.5 tackles for loss are the most for any Big 12 player in a single game this season and are tied for second-most nationally in a single game for 2016.
So his first Player of the Week award was well-earned.
“It’s an honor and a blessing,” he said of the honor. “The defense played really well. We made the plays we need to win.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was honorable mention All-Big 12 last year, starting in all 13 games for the 2015 Bears. He had a total of 83 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, to go with two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt.
Blanchard played both linebacker and defensive back for WO-S. His position for Baylor is a hybrid linebacker-and-safety position called the Bear nickel back position.
“He played two positions for us,” WO-S coach Cornel Thompson recalled. “He was tall, he could range and cover the field. I’m not surprised he’s done a good job for Baylor.”