Orlando, Fl – On a humid evening in front of a crowd of 40,418 The Baylor Bears racked up 708 total yards en route to a 49-38 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. Although the final score was close the overall game was not a close one. The Bears dominated the Tar Heels from the opening snap until the game ended. The Tar Heels showed some glimpses of how they compiled an 11-2 record and played in the ACC Championship game but in the end their defense couldn’t slow down the depleted Bears offense.
The first quarter ended with a 14-7 score with The Bears on top but the feeling was that the score could have been higher. The Bears managed to rack up 217 total yards compared to only 78 by The Tar Heels in the first quarter. That yardage was only a taste of what was to come during a dominant offensive performance from the Bears.
“Our guys were prepared” Coach Kendal Briles said after the game. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve had some of the best practices that we’ve had. As a whole, the adversity we went through this year, the seniors, what they’ve done and accomplished.”
As a team The Bears rushed for 645 yards, a bowl game record which broke the 524 rushing yards mark set by Nebraska in 1996. The Bears also added 7 rushing touchdowns as a team. On the night no player accomplished more than sophomore running back Johnny Jefferson. Jefferson ended the game with 299 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns which is the second most rushing yards in college football bowl game history and was named the game’s MVP.
Jefferson had great praise for what he was able to accomplish and for the entire team’s performance. “The big thing for me was the last game we played, I had a big mistake. And I promised the guys that I was going to come out and give it my all. And today God blessed me and they blocked amazing today. Today just turned out to be a good day.”
The game wasn’t without some very sloppy play involving penalties and turnovers. The Tar Heels had 2 turnovers and 5 penalties for 34 yards and The Bears added 1 turnover and 10 penalties for 113 yards. Penalties on Baylor single handedly kept some of The Tar Heel drives alive which allowed the score to be close than it should have at the end of the game.
In the end it was just extremely apparent that The Tar Heels were outmatched. Baylor, who was without their top two QB’s (Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham), top running back (Shock Linwood), and top receiver (Corey Coleman) were still able to steamroll N. Carolina. Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora and Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik will have to go back to the drawing board after a game like this. It’s clear that Coach Art Briles has Baylor on the right track. Although their dream season was derailed by injuries they have laid the foundation of what their team can accomplish next season.