Baylor defeats UCLA in Holiday Bowl, 49-26

December 28, 2012

Joseph Fauria / Photo by Tri Le 

San Diego – Apparently there is life after Robert Griffin III.

The Baylor Bears proved that their trademark high-powered offense could dominate with quarterback Nick Florence at the controls, as they amassed 494 total yards to trounce the UCLA Bruins, 49-26, on a chilly Thursday night at the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.

Billed as a contest between two prolific offenses, the game quickly turned into a lopsided route that silenced the heavily pro-UCLA crowd.

The Bears opened the game with their no huddle offense and seemed to have the Bruin defenders on their heels from the start.

On Baylor's second possession, Florence completed a 20-yard pass to Terrance Williams, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by Glasco Martin for a 7-0 first quarter lead.

Holiday Bowl 2012 / Photo by Tri Le

The Bears would strike again on their next possession, as Florence accurately placed a 48-yard pass to Williams between the corner and the safety to put the Bears deep in Bruin territory. Florence then found receiver Antwan Goodley in the slot against linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, and took advantage of the mismatch to complete an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.

After another stalled Bruins drive, Florence struck again with a completion to Tevin Reese on a 55-yard fly pattern down the sideline for a 21-0 lead.

Florence would finish with 188 passing yards for the game, eclipsing RG3's school single-season total passing yardage record.

"I'm not Robert," said Florence. "I'm not 6-3. I don't run a 4.3. You saw that tonight. Man, if I could run a 4.3 it would be nice. So I just had to be me. I tried to manage this offense and play within myself. He's a heck of player, he's done a heck of a job for this program, put us on the map. I'm humbled and honored to hold that record."
Holiday Bowl / Photo by Tri Le

UCLA would finally show some signs of life in the second quarter when their defense recovered a fumble deep in Baylor territory.

Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley would quickly convert the opportunity into points, as he threw a nice ball over the middle to tight end Joseph Fauria for a 22-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 21-7. Hundley would eclipse Cade McNown's single season passing yardage school record on the play and would finish the game with 329 yards passing.

However, Baylor responded immediately with two more touchdowns before halftime, officially starting the blowout.

UCLA coach Jim Mora did what he could to spark the Bruins -- calling a successful fake punt, using a no huddle attack, and regularly going for it on fourth down -- but his offense struggled to get first downs or put consistent drives together.

Shaq Evans / Photo by Tri Le
The Baylor defense certainly did its part, sacking Hundley 6 times and effectively pressuring him into several hurried, inaccurate throws.

A major reason for UCLA's difficulties was their offensive line woes, as the already-thin unit lost Torian White and Jake Brendel to first half injuries, forcing right guard Jeff Baca to fill in at center and tackle on various plays.

As a result, Bruins career rushing leader Johnathan Franklin struggled to find running room and finished with a paltry 34 yards on 14 carries. He entered the game averaging nearly 131 yards per contest.

"Depth at the offensive line position is a concern of ours, and we lost two of our starters in the first half," Mora said. "Baylor recognized that we were down, not a man, but two men, and they pinned their ears back and came after us, and it was working, and when it's working and it's effective, you stay with it."

Meanwhile, Baylor encountered no such difficulties with its ground game, as it steamrolled the Bruins' D for 306 rushing yards. Running back Lache Seastrunk led the way for the Bears with 138 yards on 16 carries, including a 43-yard touchdown run.

"Their running backs were very patient, and when you have patient running backs they can find those holes," UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said.

Glasco Martin / Photo by Tri Le The Daily Sports Herald

With the win, Baylor improved to 8-5 on the year, winning 5 of its last 6 games. UCLA dropped to 9-5, and ended the year on a three-game losing streak.

"We got a long ways to go to become the team that we want to be because the team that we want to be is the national champion," Mora said.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor of The Daily Sports Herald

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