Florence, Baylor enjoy happy Holiday at UCLA's expense

Forrest Lee, The Sports Exchange
The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- It didn't take long for Baylor's high-octane offense to hit high gear against UCLA. In one half, the Bears provided enough juice to throttle the Bruins.
By the time many of the 55,507 who witnessed the Bears' victory were heading for the exits, Baylor players and coached basked in their 49-26 rout in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night.
"The running game was huge," said Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence, who also came up big by completing 10 of 13 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another score. Florence broke Robert Griffin III's single-season school record for passing yards during the game, finishing with 4,309 yards.
"I just happened to followed the Heisman Trophy winner, so for me, I just had to go out and be me," Florence said. "I'm not Robert, I'm not 6-3 and I don't run a 4.3. I just had to be me."
Baylor's offensive line cleared holes for running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. Seastrunk, voted the bowl's offensive MVP, ran for a game-high 138 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while Martin added three touchdowns and 98 yards on 21 carries.
"Best O-line in America," Florence said, "and we've got the best backs in America. They've done a heck of job running the ball."
Baylor rushed for 306 yards to only 33 for UCLA. Overall, the Bears, who averaged 578.8 yards during the regular season, compiled 494 yards of offense compared to 362 for the Bruins.
The yardage disparity was among the reasons the Bears (8-5) captured their fourth straight victory and pinned a third consecutive loss on the Bruins (9-5).
"It was a tough night against a really good football team," UCLA coach Jim Mora said, "but we're going to continue to work hard.
"We've got a long ways to go to become the team that we want to be. The team that we want to be is a national champion. Tonight showed us how far we have to go, but we're determined to get there, and we're heading in the right direction."
Baylor also got a boost from its defense, which sacked UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley six times and pressured him for much of the contest. Defensive end Chris McAllister, selected the defensive MVP, recorded two sacks.
Baylor limited UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, who entered the game with 1,700 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, to 34 yards on 14 carries.
"We had a lot of time to prepare for this game," McAllister said. "We kind of knew the sets we were going to get and how the linemen were going to set, and we were able to take advantage of that. I think everything showed on the field today."
Hundley finished 26-for-50 for 329 yards. He threw three touchdown passes, one of them a 34-yarder to Logan Sweet on the final play of the game. UCLA's Jerry Johnson had five receptions for 116 yards.
"It is what it is," Hundley said.
Baylor dominated the first half and rolled to a 35-10 lead at the break.
Martin capped a 53-yard, six-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
The Bears scored again on their next possession, marching 84 yards in seven plays, as Florence connected with wide receiver Antwan Goodley on an 8-yard scoring pass with 4:22 remaining in the first period. Florence's 48-yard completion to wide receiver Terrance Williams helped set up the score.
Florence followed by hitting a streaking Tevin Reese down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown pass, giving Baylor a 21-0 advantage with 11:08 remaining in the half.
A Baylor turnover led to UCLA's initial score of the half. Two plays after defensive back Randall Goforth recovered Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar's fumble at the Bears' 21, Hundley found Joseph Fauria in the end zone for a 22-yard scoring pass, cutting Baylor's lead to 21-7 with 6:55 left in the second quarter.
Baylor, though, answered with two more touchdowns before intermission. Martin scored his second touchdown, a 26-yard run that gave the Bears a 28-7 lead with 4:36 remaining in the quarter.
Seastrunk made it 35-7 with a 43-yard touchdown run with 1:58 left in the half.
UCLA got a 30-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn seven seconds before intermission.
Three of Baylor's five first-half scoring possessions occurred on drives of 75 yards or more. The Bears finished the half with 342 yards in offense to UCLA's 148.

What to Read Next