Sept. 17, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - In their first home game as a ranked team since November 1991, the Baylor Bears treated their fans to another dazzling performance by Robert Griffin III and a rare shutout from the defense.
The best part of all for the locals?
Griffin was 20 of 22 for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 78 yards, leading No. 19 Baylor to a 48-0 victory over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night in a game that was ended in the third quarter because of lightning.
The storm was as much a relief for this drought-stricken area as anything on the field. Wildfires have raged across Central Texas as a hotter-than-usual summer has been made worse by little to no rainfall since May.
"We get a win and it rains, that's pretty hard to beat right now," Baylor coach Art Brilessaid.
Baylor (2-0) led 31-0 and had scored on every drive when lightning halted things late in the first half. During a 41-minute delay, the schools agreed to skip halftime and to trim the final two quarters by 3 minutes each.
When more lightning approached with 2:58 left in the third quarter, the coaches met at midfield, shook hands and let the clock run out in the quarter to make it an official game. More than half the crowd of 43,090 had left during the first break and the outcome was pretty clear. Baylor was starting to empty its bench, so the only downside was costing backups some playing time.
"We wanted to see some of our younger guys play, but for the coach to realize we're going to be sitting down for three hours, twiddling our thumbs, that was smart on his part (to call it)," Griffin III said.
Although the game went only 42 minutes -- well, 39:02, plus the run-off -- the Bears still get credit for their first shutout since 1995 and first at home since 1985.
Baylor opened the season with a thrilling victory over TCU that vaulted it from not getting any votes in the preseason poll to its highest ranking since October 1991. The Bears had 15 days off since that game, which left Briles wondering how they'd respond.
Thanks to Griffin III, they did just fine.
RG3, as he's known, led Baylor to scores on its first five drives and eight of the nine series he played.
He gave Heisman Trophy voters something to consider with a 35-yard run that featured flashes of his past as a hurdler -- he was third in the country as a freshman -- and he hit Kendall Wright in stride for a 66-yard touchdown. He also had a play where he bounced off several would-be tacklers to throw a 15-yarder.
"They got some pressure on us, not that it was a lot, but just enough to have to make me bounce," Griffin III said. "The guys did a good job blocking once I broke the pocket and just flashing themselves whenever they were open. I'm not trying to run all the time, and Coach tells me, 'Protect yourself because it's a long season.' "
Five of his touchdown drives covered at least 61 yards. There was a 96-yarder and an 80-yarder that took only 50 seconds because of the deep pass to Wright.
Through two games, Griffin III has the incredible stat of having as many touchdowns as incompletions -- eight of each. Accuracy like that proves he's a real quarterback, not just an athlete under center.
"It's just being an experienced quarterback, knowing that you have to keep the chains moving and getting guys the ball is how you do that," Griffin III said. "Coach is going a great job of calling great plays and having a great scheme. We've felt really good about the schemes we've had the last two weeks. I'm confident that we'll continue to game it up pretty good for the rest of the year."
Baylor's defense was shaky at first, giving up a 36-yard pass on the opening drive, a 50-yard run on the second drive and letting SFA drive inside the 5 on the next series. However, those drives ended on downs, then an interception and a fumble, so the Bears kept going back to the sideline having done their job.
"That's just stuff that you build on," Briles said. "You gain confidence as the season goes on."
The Lumberjacks, an FCS program, have yet to score in four meetings all-time against Baylor. SFA (1-2) was coming off a loss to a highly ranked FCS foe.
"I thought they came out here and competed in a tough situation and a tough environment," coach J.C. Harper said. "I'm really proud of the way they played against a top-ranked, top-notch, Big 12 opponent."
The only time SFA stopped Baylor was on a fumble into the end zone a few plays after the resumption of play. The half ended soon after, Baylor got the ball to start the third quarter and Terrance Ganawayran 59 yards for a touchdown on the second play.
Ganaway finished with 80 yards, and Wright had 123 yards receiving on eight catches. Lanear Sampson and Jerod Monk had the other touchdown catches, while Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin each had rushing touchdowns.
Wright tied the school record for career touchdown catches with 19 and set the school record for career receiving yards. He's already the leader in catches.
This was the first of four straight games the Bears will be favored, giving them a great chance to become regulars in the top 25, something that hasn't happened for decades.