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Missouri overpowers UNC in Independence Bowl

Dec 27, 2011 - 4:15 AM Shreveport, LA (Sports Network) - James Franklin ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, leading Missouri to a 41-24 win over North Carolina in Monday's Independence Bowl.

Franklin finished with 142 yards on the ground and 132 through the air for the Tigers (8-5), who used 31 straight first-half points to grab a decisive advantage. They recorded four straight wins to close the season, their last in the Big 12 before a move to the SEC.

"We started (the season) off a little rough but then we finished really strong," said Franklin. "I think for a lot of the guys it helped build the confidence, each game that we won, to know that we could win."

Bryn Renner threw for 317 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for the Tar Heels (7-6), while Jheranie Boyd caught three passes for 95 yards and a score.

North Carolina scored on its opening drive, capitalizing on Sean Tapley's kickoff return to midfield with Renner's 22-yard touchdown pass to Dwight Jones.

But the Tar Heels, playing their final game under interim coach Everett Withers, failed to maintain the momentum.

T.J. Moe brought the ensuing kick out to his own 42, then tossed a touchdown pass to Wes Kemp six plays later. The 40-yard strike came on a halfback pass and initiated the game-deciding run.

Franklin capped Missouri's next drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge and Trey Barrow hit a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter before the Tigers capitalized on a pair of UNC turnovers prior to the break.

Giovani Bernard's fumble at the UNC 40 was converted into Franklin's eight- yard TD strike to Jerell Jackson and an interception by Zaviar Gooden resulted in Kendial Lawrence's nine-yard scoring run.

Thomas Moore's field goal made it 31-10 at the half. The 21-yard kick came after the Tar Heels failed to take advantage of a 1st-and-goal from the two- yard line.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, as Renner hit Boyd for a 44- yard score and Franklin crossed the goal line from two yards out the ensuing drive.

Barrow tacked on a 26-yarder in the fourth before Renner hit Erik Highsmith for a 17-yard touchdown with 4:08 remaining, capping the scoring.

"I think when you play bowl games sometimes you don't know what you're going to get," said Withers. "I thought the kids came back and fought hard."

Game Notes

Withers, who took over for ousted head coach Butch Davis prior to the season, is heading to Ohio State, where he will act as Urban Meyer's co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach...North Carolina hired Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora as Withers' replacement... The Tigers have recorded six straight eight-win seasons...Renner finished the year with 26 touchdown passes, a new UNC single-season record...This was the third all-time meeting between the teams. The Tigers lead the series, 3-0.