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Friday, December 28, 2012

ROUGHRIDER PROSPECT SHINES

SAN DIEGO - Routing the UCLA Bruins almost seemed like a sidelight for Baylor Bears quarterback Nick Florence, a prospect on the negotiation list of the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Nabbing one of Robert Griffin III's school records? Now that was a big deal.

The Bears overwhelmed the No. 17 Bruins 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night as Florence threw for two scores and ran for another. Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns.

Florence completed 10 of 13 passes for 188 yards, giving him 4,309 for the season to break RG3's school record of 4,293 set in his 2011 Heisman Trophy-winning season.

"For me, I just wanted a chance to play. I just happened to follow a Heisman Trophy winner,'' Florence said. "I'm not Robert. 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 offence 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 honoured to hold that record. He deserves it. I never thought that would have happened this year. I just wanted to win games.''

Baylor (8-5) won its final four games and five of six.

"That was a question we asked all our players, 'What was going to happen now that Robert's gone?''' coach Art Briles said. "And our guys responded, fought together, believed in each other. They have always sustained and never lost focus.''

Lache Seastrunk rushed 16 times for 138 yards and one score for Baylor, which outgained UCLA 494-362. The Bears came in leading the nation in total offence with 578.8 yards per game.

Baylor's defence came up big, too. The Bears sacked Brett Hundley six times, including two by Chris McAllister, and shut down UCLA's career rushing leader Johnathan Franklin. Franklin, who averaged 130.8 yards this season, gained 12 yards on his first carry of the game but was a non-factor after that, finishing with just 34 yards on 14 carries.

Overall, the Bruins gained only 33 yards on 28 carries. They came in having averaged 202.9 yards rushing.

"They played well upfront,'' UCLA coach Jim Mora said. "When we are at our best is when we can run the football. We couldn't find any room to the football. They played physical.''

Hundley was 26 of 50 for 329 yards and three touchdowns to set UCLA's season passing record with 3,740 yards. The old record was 3,470 by Cade McNown in 1998.

UCLA (9-5) lost its final three.

The Bruins were never in this one. Baylor raced to a 21-0 lead by early in the second quarter on Martin's 4-yard run and Florence's TD passes of 8 yards to Antwan Goodley and 55 yards to Tevin Reese.

"We knew coming in that we could run the ball well, and the O-line did a heck of a job and made my job easy,'' Florence said. "It makes throwing a lot easier.''

Hundley threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Evans early in the fourth quarter and a 34-yarder to Logan Sweet as the game ended.

© The Associated Press

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