ORLANDO, Fla. — Relying heavily on the Wildcat formation, Baylor set a FBS bowl record with 645 yards rushing in its 49-38 win over North Carolina on Tuesday night.
Johnny Jefferson led the way with 299 yards to shatter the old Russell Athletic Bowl record of 246 yards by Minnesota’s Tellis Remond in 2000. Jefferson came within nine yards of setting the rushing record for any bowl game.
“This was the last game for the seniors on our offensive line and I told them I’d give it my all,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson also broke the Baylor single-game rushing record of 250 yards set by Jay Finley against Kansas State in 2010. With Devin Chafin rushing for 161 yards, he and Jefferson combined for 460 yards to set an all-time bowl rushing record for a duo.
The Bears broke the Russell Athletic Bowl team rushing record in the first half when they amassed 358 yards, surpassing the old record of 325 yards rushing set by Illinois against Virginia in 1999.
The Bears also set the total offense record for the Russell Athletic Bowl with 756 yards, breaking the old mark of 653 yards by North Carolina State against Kansas in 2003.
Flipping turnover script
After committing 14 turnovers in their last four games, the Bears committed just one against the Tar Heels.
It was costly as Dominiquie Green intercepted Chris Johnson’s pass at the goal line in the third quarter after the Bears drove to the 8.
The Bears had driven 68 yards, and a touchdown would have given them a 35-24 lead.
But the Bears won the turnover battle as Orion Stewart intercepted a Marquise Williams’ pass and recovered a third-quarter fumble in the end zone for a touchback.
“We studied film a lot this week and got keyed into what the offense likes to do,” Stewart said. “We gave up some plays that we didn’t want to give up and got the W, and that’s all that matters.”
Bears square up bowl mark
With their win over North Carolina, the Bears evened their all-time bowl record at 11-11.
Baylor won its first bowl game since a 49-26 win over UCLA in the 2012 Holiday Bowl. The Bears lost their last two bowl appearances, including a 52-42 decision against Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl and a 42-41 loss to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
“This win meant a lot to us,” Baylor linebacker Aiavion Edwards said. “Getting this win was big for us and the program. Our seniors kept us together.”
The Bears also won their first bowl game in Florida.
It was their first bowl game in the Sunshine State since the 1960 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville when they dropped a 13-12 thriller to Florida.
Baylor lost a 17-14 decision to Georgia Tech in the 1952 Orange Bowl and a 33-13 decision to Auburn in the 1954 Gator Bowl.