WACO, Texas -- Robert Griffin looked as good as ever on his surgically repaired right knee, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another to lead Baylor past Sam Houston State 34-3 Saturday night.
Griffin was a freshman sensation in 2008, but his 2009 season ended with a torn knee ligament in the third game. Bigger, stronger and wearing a knee brace, he pretty much picked up where he'd left off.
He threw a career-best 68-yard touchdown pass on his second series, then ran for a 30-yard touchdown on his next drive. Baylor led 21-0 at halftime, then Jay Finley ran 44 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the first play of the second half.
Griffin went 19-of-36 for 242 yards, playing all but Baylor's final drive. He was sacked once and didn't have any turnovers. He also ran six times for a team-best 59 yards.
It could've been even better.
Freshman Tevin Reese, who nearly made a juggling catch in the end zone in the second quarter, dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone in the third quarter. Griffin had a 9-yard touchdown run called back because of holding in the fourth quarter.
Sam Houston State -- an FCS school breaking in a new coach and quarterback, and with unproven running backs and receivers -- hardly put up a challenge.
The Bearkats didn't break Baylor's 20-yard line until the fourth quarter, then had to settle for a 27-yard field goal. They gained just 195 yards.
The Bears are hoping Griffin's return and a soft schedule will end a 15-year bowl drought, which matches Duke for the longest among schools in BCS conferences. Anticipation was so high that this game drew a crowd of 42,821, the third-largest for an opener in school history.
Baylor won the coin toss and gladly took the ball.
Griffin completed his first three passes, including a nicely timed lob, then came up just short on a throw into the end zone. The series ended with a stop on a fourth-down run.
His 68-yard TD pass actually was a short throw over the middle that turned into a huge gain, thanks to speedy running by Brad Taylor and nice downfield blocking. Griffin stayed where he was, watching on a big screen at the opposite end of the field. When Taylor scored, Griffin clapped, dropped to a knee for a quick prayer, then went to the sideline to celebrate with his teammates.
He took his first hit on the opening play of the third drive, getting brought down by his legs after a 15-yard run. He jumped right back up, drawing a huge cheer. A few plays later, he scrambled left, saw an opening and zipped through the defense, holding up his right index finger as he crossed the goal line.
Two plays after Reese's near-miss in the end zone, Griffin saw Terrance Williams break free toward the goal line and hit him for the easy score.
Soon after, the crowd had another reason to cheer: the men's basketball team came on the field during a timeout to receive rings for reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament this past season. The group included Ekpe Udoh, the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft.
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|Sam Houston State||7-2||11-4|
|Stephen F Austin||4-5||4-7|