Jefferson’s 3 TDs lead Baylor by UNC 49-38 in Russell Bowl

  • 2706917_web1_2706917-a51c8708bac84742957e00ca66de9039.jpg

ORLANDO, Fla. — When it was at full strength this season, Baylor had the most productive offense in college football.

ADVERTISING


ORLANDO, Fla. — When it was at full strength this season, Baylor had the most productive offense in college football.

Even without several of their key pieces, the Bears proved they could be just as impressive.

Johnny Jefferson rushed for three touchdowns and a record 299 yards, and No. 18 Baylor ran past No. 10 North Carolina 49-38 in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Tuesday night.

Despite missing two quarterbacks, an award-winning receiver, and a 1,000-yard running back, the Bears’ No. 1-ranked scoring offense stayed creative, pounding out 645 yards rushing and 756 total yards — both records for this bowl.

“It just says we’re tough. Baylor’s whole identity is ‘physicality travels.’ That’s all we preach. That’s all we teach,” said Jefferson, whose rushing performance was a Russell Athletic Bowl record. “So being physical today, we won the game.”

Devin Chafin added 161 yards and a touchdown, and Terence Williams rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears (10-3).

North Carolina (11-3) tried to match Baylor’s scoring output but had a key fumble in the third quarter that stifled its comeback efforts.

Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams passed for 243 yards and three scores, and rushed for two more. Elijah Hood added 118 yards rushing.

The win was Baylor’s first bowl victory since 2012, snapping a string of two consecutive bowl losses.

The biggest question leading up to Tuesday’s matchup was how Baylor’s offense would adapt with quarterbacks Seth Russell (neck injury) and Jarrett Stidham (broken ankle), Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman (hernia surgery), and running back Shock Linwood (broken foot) all sidelined.

The answer became apparent early on.

Though sophomore Chris Johnson started the day at quarterback, five different players — Johnson, his backup Lynx Hawthorne, and running backs Jefferson, Chafin, and Terence Williams — all took snaps from center for the Bears within the first two series. They continued to use the quintet in multiple Wildcat formations throughout the game.

ADVERTISING


Coach Art Briles did not address the media after the game, but his son and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said using the Wildcat sets were always part of the game plan.

“We felt good about it. Our players were prepared,” Kendal Briles said. “From a whole, the adversity we went through this year, the guys stuck together as only a team could do.”