Missouri beats UNC 41-24 in Independence Bowl

Missouri quarterback James Franklin, right breaks through North Carolina defenders on his way to a 2-yard touchdown run Monday in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

Missouri quarterback James Franklin, right breaks through North Carolina defenders on his way to a 2-yard touchdown run Monday in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Photo by The Associated Press.

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Missouri made sure its final football game as a member of the Big 12 was decided early.

James Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and the Tigers easily beat North Carolina 41-24 in the Independence Bowl on Monday night.

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Missouri wide receiver Wes Kemp (8) runs away from North Carolina defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown pass reception in the first quarter of their Independence Bowl college football game, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, in Shreveport, La.

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.

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

North Carolina's poor defense wasted a productive game by quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Missouri's mascot — Truman the Tiger — shattered most of the original Independence Bowl trophy before the game started in a pre-game accident. The Tigers were more than happy to claim the replacement.

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.

Posted earlier:

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

Missouri (8-5) won its final football game as a member of the Big 12, finishing the season on a four-game winning streak for the first time since 1965. The Tigers will join the Southeastern Conference next season.

Franklin rushed for 142 yards and threw for 132, leading Missouri to an Independence Bowl-record 31 first-half points. Kendial Lawrence added 108 rushing yards for the Tigers, who gained 337 yards on the ground.

North Carolina (7-6) fell in interim coach Everett Withers' final game on the sideline. The Tar Heels lost five of their final seven after starting the season with a 5-1 record.

Bryn Renner threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for UNC.

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