MONROE, La. (AP) — Nick Florence completed 26 of 39 passes for 351 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to help Baylor beat Louisiana-Monroe 47-42 on Friday night for its ninth straight victory.
With Baylor (3-0) trailing 35-34 in the fourth quarter, Florence led a 14-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Levi Norwood’s 9-yard touchdown run off a pitch. Florence added a 22-yard scoring pass to Terrance Williams to put the game out of reach.
Louisiana-Monroe fell to 1-2, dropping its home opener in front of a Malone Stadium-record crowd of 31,175. The Warhawks opened with consecutive overtime games, beating Arkansas and losing to Auburn.
“It was a dogfight,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “They are an extremely hot football team right now that has a tremendous amount of confidence. We walked into an environment that we knew would be a great football atmosphere to begin with. They have been good for a while. They just play a tough, tough nonconference schedule.”
Baylor scored 17 straight points to take a 28-24 lead into the half.
The teams combined for 63 first downs and 1,109 yards of total offense and there were only three punts in the game. The Bears have scored more than 40 points in seven consecutive games and have accumulated over 500 yards of total offense in all nine games in the winning streak. The streak is the second-longest in the nation, one behind TCU.
“Very disappointed as I always am after a lost,” Warhawks coach Todd Berry said. “Baylor is a very good football team. The margin of victory is so small, just a few inches here and there. You can’t turn the ball over like we did, that was very uncharacteristic of us on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, we didn’t play very well. Our discipline in terms of playing our assignments and also staying onsides will have to be corrected and it will be corrected next week.”
Baylor fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter after Florence’s two interceptions set up two touchdowns — Kolton Browning’s 22-yard scoring pass to Tavarese Maye, and Monterrell Washington’s 9-yard TD run.
“That is something that he never does,” Briles said about Florence’s interceptions. “But we aren’t going to panic and stop throwing the ball. Nick is good. He does see the field good, so he responded.”
The Bears were down 21-7 midway through the second quarter, then rallied on Glasco Martin had a 1-yard touchdown run, Aaron Jones’ 34-yard field goal, and Williams’ 48-yard touchdown reception.
“The thing about football is that you are always in it,” Briles said. “All you got to do is make a play on either side of the ball. We knew it was going to be a fight because they are good. They are a dangerous football team, but so are we. Our guys believe they are going to win, and that’s something that gives you a leg up.”
Florence also ran for 55 yards on nine carries.
The Warhawks regained the lead with 10:54 left in the fourth quarter on Browning’s 1-yard run.
Browning also led the Warhawks to a touchdown in the final seconds. He finished 25 of 39 for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
“I would like to applaud our fan base,” Berry said. “I am really appreciative of what happened. Someone asked me before the game what I was expecting and I can say that the fan base exceeded it. For the past two years and three games we have tried to get this team to believe and now I think they do. I hope that even with the loss that the fan base and student body believe now as well. Because if they do we can go a long way with this thing. There can be a lot of good things that can happen for us.”