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December 26, 2011

Tigers Roll Heels in Independence Bowl

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - James Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and Missouri beat North Carolina 41-24 in the Independence Bowl on Monday night.

Missouri (8-5) ends the season on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 1965. The Tigers will join the Southeastern Conference next fall and showed one reason they should be a factor immediately.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Franklin, a sophomore who generally did as he pleased in both the running and passing games.

Franklin, named the game's offensive Most Valuable Player, rushed for 142 yards and threw for 132 despite less than ideal conditions in the cold and rain at Independence Stadium. He led the Tigers to 31 first-half points - an Independence Bowl record.

For North Carolina (7-6), a season that started with a promising 5-1 record ends with a lopsided loss. The Tar Heels lost five of their final seven under interim coach Everett Withers, who leaves to become defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.

North Carolina had the Atlantic Coast Conference's second-best rushing defense, giving up just 106.2 yards per game. But the Tigers found plenty of running room with Franklin and Kendial Lawrence, repeatedly gashing the Tar Heels for big gains.

"(Frankin) is just such a dynamic guy running and throwing that you have to respect both," Withers said. "I always count the quarterback as an extra running back in the spread and that's exactly what he was."

Lawrence rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown as the Tigers racked up 337 yards on the ground.

North Carolina's quarterback, Bryn Renner, had a very productive game, throwing for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

North Carolina scored first, with Renner hitting Dwight Jones for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 12:12 left in the first quarter.

That would be the high point for the Tar Heels.

Missouri responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass from receiver T.J. Moe to Wes Kemp after a lateral from Franklin.

Moe hadn't thrown a touchdown pass since his days as a high school quarterback in suburban St. Louis, and it was just his second complete pass of the season.

The Tigers scored again on Franklin's 2-yard run to take a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up by Franklin's 16-yard pass to L'Damian Washington that put the Tigers at the 2-yard line.

Washington grew up in Shreveport, just a few miles from Independence Stadium.

And Missouri just kept piling on.

The Tigers scored two touchdowns and a field goal during the second quarter to take a 31-10 halftime lead.

North Carolina had a glimmer of hope late in the third when Jheranie Boyd caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Renner to pull the Tar Heels to 34-17.

But Missouri responded minutes later with Franklin's second touchdown run of the night and the rout continued.





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