NCAA Bowl Rushing Record Set, as Baylor Defeats North Carolina 49-38

Produced by Danny Morales

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Danny Morales

Johnny Jefferson rushed for a Russell Athletic Bowl record 299 yards and 3 touchdowns.

ORLANDO, Fla – The Baylor Bears came into Tuesday’s Russell Athletic Bowl missing several key weapons on offense, but after the performance by running back Johnny Jefferson and the rest of the high-powered Bears, you would have never known.

Jefferson rushed for a RAB record 299 yards and three touchdowns and the Bears amassed 756 yards of offense, also a RAB record, on their way to a 49-38 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Citrus Bowl.

“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,” Jefferson said. “Today, God blessed me and they blocked amazing today. Today just turned out to be a good day.”

The sophomore running back earned game MVP honors and was apart of an attack that put up an astounding 653 yards on the ground, an all-time record for any NCAA bowl game. The Bears came into the game with the top offense in the country at 604.6 yards per game, including 300 ypg rushing.

“By far, this is the best performance I’ve had in my life,” Jefferson added.

*Story continues after the break*

(All photos by Andrew Suarez / Valencia Voice)

Going into the bowl game, Baylor (10-3, 6-3) led the NCAA with 604.6 yards per game and 48 points per contest. However, they were without the services of their top two quarterbacks (Heisman contender Seth Russell and backup Jarrett Stidham), starting running back Shock Linwood and the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best receiver Corey Coleman.

The Baylor coaching staff had stressed leading up to the game, the ability to harness those losses into motivation for the rest of the team in adopting the next man up mentality .

“We felt good about it, obviously, our guys were prepared,” Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles said. “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, what they’ve done and accomplished.”

Early in the second, the contest was close with Baylor leading 14-10. The Baylor offense would stay in attack mode, as Jefferson would score from 11-yards out to make it 21-10. On the ensuing North Carolina possession, Baylor safety Orion Stewart would intercept Tar Heel quarterback Marquise Williams, which would lead to another Jefferson touchdown to make it 28-10.

Williams finished the game 22-36 for 243 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and 93 yards with two scores on the ground.

The Tar Heels (11-3, 8-0), who showed resiliency throughout the game, put together a strong game offensively as well, just struggled all game in trying to contain the Baylor offense.

“They did some things they hadn’t done, but you have to give their staff credit” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said. “They put a plan together of wildcat and every form of quarterback running game they could run…they’ve done that all year.”

After scoring before the half to make it 28-17, the Tar Heels came out of the locker room at the half strong and scored on their opening possession to make it a one-score game at 28-24.

The Bears went on back-to-back touchdown drives, aided also by a Tar Heel fumble in red zone to make it 42-24, with the game essentially out of reach.

Devin Chafin also went over 100 yard rushing (161) for the Bears, and Terence Williams had 97 yards and two scores.

The win is the Bears first bowl win since 2012 and gives the Baylor senior class 50 wins.