By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - Two weeks after lighting up the college football world with an upset of then-No. 14 ranked TCU, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was back at it despite some interference by Mother Nature.
Griffin had 343 yards of total offense - including 78 rushing - and three touchdowns through the air as he led No. 19 Baylor to a weather-shortened 48-0 beatdown of Stephen F. Austin in just three quarters of play Saturday evening at Floyd Casey Stadium.
With lightning and rain threatening from the northeast, interrupting play twice, the last of which forced the game to get called with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter at the insistence of both head coaches. The final three minutes were run off by officials as players and coaches shook hands at midfield.
The Lumberjacks were actually all off the field and on their way to the visitor's locker room with 25 seconds still left on the running clock.
"Per NCAA rules, by my understanding, which I just found out tonight, you have to complete three quarters for it to count," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "That's all we were trying to shoot for - get three quarters in the book and get a 'W' and get ready to play Rice next week.
"You know, we got a win and it rains, that's pretty hard to beat this time of year."
The game was initially suspended with 2:14 left in the second quarter after lightning was detected five miles from the stadium, prompting a 41-minute delay. With more rain and lightning on its way, both schools decided to forgo halftime completely and shorten the third and fourth
quarters to 12 minutes each.
"We're like the rain delay team," Griffin joked. "I don't know what it is, God's just like, 'All right - delay.' But we're used to it now, so you just sit back and relax and you pretty much get to start the game all over."
Despite the stoppages, Griffin - or RGIII - was back to his Heisman campaign, throwing for 265 yards on 20-of-22 passing for a single-game school-record 90.9 completion percentage. For the year, the former Copperas Cove standout has as many touchdowns (8) as incompletions.
"I thought he was playing at a real high level the whole game, I thought he kept plays alive and he definitely gave us a spark offensively," Briles said. "He came (in) game-speed ready."
Griffin showed off that speed, too, on several occasions Saturday night. Even after taking a big first-quarter hit to the thighs on a 12-yard first-down scamper in which he hurdled a defender and flipped end-over-end out of bounds, Griffin didn't shy away from contact. Early in the second quarter, Griffin rolled to his left on second-and-7 before deciding to run with it, sprinting between two Lumberjack defenders for 35 yards before stepping safely out of bounds.
The run set up a quick 10-yard strike from Griffin to tight end Jerod Monk for a 17-0 lead four minutes into the second quarter.
"(Assistant) coach (Dino) Babers said he's never seen me run faster than that in his life, and he doesn't throw out compliments very often," Griffin grinned. "I saw No. 2 (Ben Wells) come off but he wasn't really sure if I was going to run or throw and by the time he saw me, he couldn't make a play."
The Bears (2-0) were lights-out on offense, scoring on their first five possessions as Griffin repeatedly extended plays with his legs and lit up the scoreboard with his arm, which included hitting favorite target Kendall Wright on a 66-yard touchdown that gave Baylor a 31-0 lead just before the first lightning delay.
The Lumberjacks (1-2) weren't so lucky, despite moving the ball effectively on their first three offensive possessions, getting deep into Baylor territory each time only to get turned away thanks to turnovers.
In fact, SFA actually outgained Baylor 185-113 in the first quarter and made it to the Bears' 4-yard line before Baylor linebacker Brody Trahan stripped tailback Gus Johnson and big nose tackle Nicholas Jean-Baptiste pounced on it just 2½ minutes into the second.
"All I saw was Brody made a good strip of the ball and I saw the ball in the air and I just dove on it," said Jean-Baptiste, who finished with a team-high seven tackles and a sack. "The ball was still kind of rolling around when I dove on it, but I was able to grab it right before the ref came in there."
After the fumble, the Baylor defense locked down, allowing just two first downs the rest of the game for its first shutout since 1995 (N.C. State) and first at home since Oct. 26, 1985, against TCU.