By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - In an effort to ramp up attention for junior quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Baylor athletic department has started a Heisman Trophy campaign with his own trading card and a fancy new website dedicated to his accomplishments.
Following a record-setting performance in front of a national ESPN audience, in which Griffin led Baylor on a game-for-the-annals winning drive in the closing minutes of a 50-48 upset of No. 14 TCU, consider the nation now fully aware of the man known simply as RGIII.
Throwing a career-best five touchdowns and 359 yards on 21-of-27 passing, Griffin also caught a clutch 15-yard pass from favorite target Kendall Wright on a third-and-10 play to extend the go-ahead drive, setting up the game-winning 37-yard field goal by kicker Aaron Jones with 1:04 left in regulation.
"It just let us know that we can be one of the best offenses in the nation," the former Copperas Cove standout told Sportscenter after the game. "It showed me this is one of the best teams I've ever been on."
And, even after spotting the Horned Frogs 25 points in a furious fourth-quarter rally in which TCU stormed back from a 47-23 deficit to take a 48-47 lead with 4½ minutes remaining, it was a Bears defensive stop - an interception by safety Mike Hicks - with 2 seconds left that sealed the upset Friday night at Floyd Casey Stadium.
And, seemingly inviting Baylor Nation to storm the field with a waving of his arms before the final snap, Griffin kneeled in the victory formation as a sea of yellow flooded the Bears players celebrating on the field,
Coming through with one of the greatest offensive showings of his illustrious career, Griffin shone brightest playing opposite ex-Bulldawg teammates Josh Boyce and Logan and Tanner Brock with TCU.
Boyce, a childhood friend of Griffin's from their days playing church-league basketball, had the biggest impact for the Horned Frogs, finishing with a team-high 96 yards receiving on nine receptions and a 9-yard touchdown reception coupled with a two-point conversion catch one play later that made it 47-39 with 11:05 in the fourth quarter. Logan Brock (4 catches for 41 yards) added a pair of touchdown catches that bookended a 26-point scoring run by Baylor that put them in position to bring TCU's 25-game regular season winning streak to a screeching halt.
But ultimately, it was the Baylor offense - led by RGIII himself - that made the biggest plays, as Griffin found Wright a school-record 12 times for a career-best 189 yards and two touchdowns. Wright also had a touchdown throw himself, opening up the shootout with a early-first quarter 40-yard double-pass to Terrance Williams, who himself finished with six receptions for 126 yards and two scores.
But the miraculous comeback might not have been necessary if not for Griffin's lone mistake on the night - a fumble with just under seven minutes left caused and recovered by TCU defensive lineman Stansly Maponga - that set up the Horned Frogs' go-ahead 27-yard field goal by kicker Ross Evans to cap a 25-point turnaround.
After back-to-back incomplete passes to begin the next drive, the Bears offense changed things up, calling a passing play to Griffin. Throwing a lateral to Wright in the backfield, Griffin took off up the middle of the field 15 yards before turning around just in time to haul in the first-down completion, absorbing a monster hit by TCU linebacker Kris Gardener.
"Honestly, it caught me off guard, especially for coach to call that on 3rd-and-10, but I'm glad he did because it worked," Griffin said of his catch. "I knew I was going to get hit on the play, just because every time we run that play I get hit - and I'm still feeling that hit right now - but you have to make those kind of plays to win."
Laying on the ground for a few seconds, Griffin popped up ready to keep moving the ball, returning the favor with an 11-yard completion to Wright and then taking off on a 7-yard scamper across midfield. Following a short run by Ganaway, Griffin found Williams for 17 yards to the TCU 26 and set up Jones for the go-ahead kick.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566.