WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor backup quarterback Seth Russell had a simple plan when throwing toward speedy freshman standout KD Cannon.
“He just knows how to get open,” Russell said. “I just threw it up and he went and got it.”
Russell threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns while playing only the first half, three of those scores to Cannon in the first quarter, as the 10th-ranked Bears overwhelmed FCS team Northwestern State 70-6 on Saturday night.
The Bears (2-0) came through just fine without senior quarterback Bryce Petty and several injured top receivers. They had 720 total yards and won their 12th straight home game, and have scored at least 69 points six times in that streak.
Coach Art Briles had said Petty, the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the year, wouldn’t play unless he was 100 percent healthy after cracking two small bones in his back. He took a hit on his first series in the home season opener six nights earlier.
Petty didn’t even dress out against NSU, and now the Bears have another short week to prepare for Friday night’s game at Buffalo.
“He’s eager to get back out there,” Briles said after the game. “Once again, we’ll make sure he’s healthy. That little flame (to play), I think turned into a pretty big fire.”
Northwestern State (0-2) got only a pair of field goals by Chris Moore (25 and 28 yards) and lost its 17th game in a row to an FBS team since 2005.
Russell completed 16 of 25 passes for the most yards passing in a single half in school history, and third-most in a game, as Baylor built a 49-3 lead. He had only 427 yards in his seven games as a freshman last season, mostly in the second half of blowout victories Petty started, and threw for 121 yards in the second half of the 45-0 win over SMU last week.
Cannon went streaking past the secondary for early TD catches of 50, 81 and 42 yards. He finished with six catches for 223 yards, the second-most in school history even without playing after halftime.
“I’ve watched a lot of receivers, seen a bunch over 30-something years in coaching,” said Briles, recalling his impressions after watching Cannon play a high school game last fall. “I came back and said that’s the best guy I’ve ever seen as a high school receiver, no doubt. He’s good. He’s different.”
The Bears were also without Antwan Goodley (quad) and Levi Norwood (wrist), their top two receivers from last season who also got hurt in the opener, while fellow senior receiver Clay Fuller is still recovering from a broken collarbone.
In a 71-second span just before halftime, Jay Lee had a 61-yard TD catch and freshman Davion Hall had a 57-yard score.
Freshman running back Johnny Jefferson ran 20 times for 107 yards. His 2-yard TD in the third quarter capped an 11-play, 49-yard drive in which he ran on every play.
Silas Nacita ran 14 times for 104 yards with two fourth-quarter TDs.
The start of the game was delayed 16 minutes after a storm system with lightning and heavy rain rolled through the area before players took the field for warmups.
Once the game started, Baylor led 14-0 in less than 5 minutes. Russell hit Cannon for the 50-yarder, then ran 3 yards for a score after Xavien Howard’s second interception of the season for Baylor, an acrobatic pick along the sideline.
“They got to our secondary a little bit. You’ve got to give them credit,” NSU coach Jay Thomas said. “They got off to a quick start. We could never get the field flipped.”
Instead of his usual No. 32 jersey, running back Shock Linwood wore the No. 5 of injured teammate Goodley on the receiver’s 23rd birthday and did a nice early impression of a receiver.
Linwood’s 24-yard catch to midfield came a play before the first Bears touchdown. He caught another pass for 29 yards on Baylor’s second offensive possession, and had a 2-yard TD run before halftime.
Baylor won’t play again in its new $266 million riverfront campus stadium for more than a month. The Bears have three consecutive road games and an open date before playing at home Oct. 11 against TC
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