UT vs. Rice: 42-28
Fueled by redshirt freshman quarterback Jer- rod Heard’s effort in his first career collegiate start, the Texas Longhorns were able to overcome a strong individual effort from Rice redshirt fresh- man running back Samuel Stewart to defeat the Owls 42-28, in the teams’ first meeting since 2011.
The game, hyped by many as the biggest of the year, could not have started off worse for Rice: The first three offensive possessions of the game resulted in just one first down. The punts resulting from these possessions were similarly disastrous, as poor special teams tackling resulted in one be- ing returned for a touchdown and another being returned to the Owls’ six-yard line. 12 minutes into the game, Rice was already trailing 21-0.
The Owls, however, would not fold. As part of his impressive day, Stewart ran for two touch- downs in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 21-14. However, Stewart’s performance and Rice’s strong second quarter proved insufficient to over- come its self-inflicted wounds and top Texas’ time- ly big plays. Rice had five turnovers on the day to Texas’ one, including redshirt senior quarterback Driphus Jackson’s interception on the Owls’ final
drive of the second half, with the team 27 yards away from tying the game.
Altogether, turnovers and special teams play explained how Rice lost a game in which they out- gained the opposition 462 yards to 277, had 30 first downs to the Longhorns’ 11 and held the ball for over 44 minutes.
In the postgame press conference, Head Coach David Bailiff said the team suffered from a poor special teams performance.
“We can’t have those kinds of mistakes,” Bailiff said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball better. You can’t come in here and have five turnovers, have three big punt returns, big holding penalties. Ev- erything we did, we did to ourselves; everything we did is correctable.”
Jackson said the game could have had a differ- ent outcome if Rice had avoided making mistakes. “Everything we did was self-inflicted,” Jackson said. “We had five turnovers today, which we’ve never done as a program. Myself with two inter- ceptions and then us with three fumbles, that’s
not the Rice way.”
Some of these mistakes, according to Bailiff,
could be chalked up to the hype surrounding the game from players and the media alike.
“We tried hard to make sure that [we didn’t have excessively excited players] because that was a concern,” Bailiff said. “Sometimes when you’re too jazzed for a game you don’t play well, and I know early in this game we were too jazzed up and weren’t playing the way we were capable of.”
Despite the disappointing result, Bailiff and the team were able to find several positives to take
away from the game. According to Bailiff, he was proud in the team’s ability to fight back from a large deficit in a hostile environment.
“I’m really proud of how this team fought back,” Bailiff said. “When we were down 21-0 in the first quarter, we just kept working and found our way back into the football game. We believed we were coming here to win a football game, we believed we were the better team.”
Many were impressed with Stewart, who rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Jackson said the running back showed he will be a playmaker for years to come.
“Sam’s going to be a huge asset for this pro- gram for a long time,” Jackson said. “He did a great job in protections, sitting down in zones. He did a lot of things for the other running backs to look at.”
Despite having to deal with poor field position for parts of the night, redshirt sophomore defen- sive end Brian Womac said the defense’s effort was strong.
“I think we played with a lot of intensity and had guys rallying to the football,” Womac said. “I think we came in there with a good game plan, getting after the quarterback. Not a bad game for us defensively.”
Looking ahead to next week, Rice will open Conference USA play with a road matchup against the University of North Texas, a team they defeat- ed 41-21 last season.
The Owls will look to push their record to 2-1 on Sept. 19 against the North Texas Mean Green at 1:30 p.m. in Denton, Texas.