The Rice University football team (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) had its worst defensive outing of the season against Louisiana Tech University on Saturday, Nov. 29, losing 76-31 in a game that decided the victor of the Conference USA West Division.
The Owls struck first in the game on a field goal from senior kicker James Hairston on their first offensive drive but would not hold a lead for the remainder of the game. Louisiana Tech went on to score three touchdowns in the first quarter and added another in the second. The game went to halftime with Louisiana Tech up 28-17.
Despite narrowing the lead to 28-24 early in the second half, Louisiana Tech scored 42 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to give the Bulldogs their season-high score, while also giving Rice its third-worst defensive performance in school history and the worst since surrendering 77 points to Louisiana State University in 1977.
Louisiana Tech recorded 677 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs had three receivers — junior Paul Turner (122), sophomore Trent Taylor (120) and freshman Carlos Henderson (114) — record at least 100 yards receiving on the day. Junior running back Kenneth Dixon finished with 137 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Rice defense allowed multiple big plays, allowing touchdowns of 72, 35, 31, 58 and 35 yards.
Junior quarterback Driphus Jackson had his best statistical day of the season in the loss. Jackson completed 25 of 40 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns, along with three interceptions. Jackson now has 2,524 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season.
Senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor had 10 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, and senior wide receiver Mario Hull added a pair of touchdowns for the Owls.
Rice recorded only 34 yards rushing on the day, one-fifth of the season average of 170 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard led the rushing attack, and had 19 and 16 yards rushing, respectively. The rest of the team combined for -1 yard.
Rice must now wait to find out its bowl destination. Possible bowl games are the Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Hawaii Bowl and the Boca Raton Bowl, among others. Rice has had three consecutive winning seasons for the first time in school history and will be going to its third straight bowl game.