Football squanders scoring opportunities, falls to Texas
Defense holds strong against Longhorn attack, but laid-back playcalling dooms Owls
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 6, 2011 11:10
The No. 24 ranked University of Texas (1-0) has to be glad that Rice is absent from its schedule next year. After two years of games that left Longhorns fans holding their breaths for three quarters, there will certainly be relief in Austin next year when the University of Wyoming comes to town to start the season in place of Rice.
That being said, once again, Rice had a fourth quarter that resembled the other mismatched games around the country – leaving the final score a dramatic misrepresentation of the game that had been played on the field.
"It was a game that we expected to be in until the end and have an opportunity to win in the fourth," Head Coach David Bailiff said. "A year ago we were happy we competed in the game with them. This year we were expecting to win."
The Owls started out by scoring the first points of the game on a 42-yard field goal by redshirt sophomore Chris Boswell after forcing a Texas punt. Texas would return the favor by converting an Owl field goal the very next possession, tying the game at 3-3.
With only a few moments left in the first quarter, Rice senior punt returner Xavier Webb would muff a punt, giving Texas excellent field position. Longhorn running back Cody Johnson pushed the ball over the goal line on a one -yard run, pushing the score out to 10-3. Another Longhorn field goal after a Rice punt would leave the score at 13-3.
With 5:56 left in the half, redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor McHargue received the ball on his own 18 yard line, looking to bring the Owls within one possession. He put together a five-minute long drive that would put the Owls just inside range of Boswell's impressively strong leg. Boswell connected on a 49-yard field goal attempt, sending the team into the locker room with a 13-6 margin, one touchdown away from a tied game.
Rice held strong heading into the third quarter, forcing a Texas punt and scoring on their next drive – Boswell's third field goal of the night. Texas answered with authority, showing why they are a true football powerhouse. They stormed down the field after the Boswell field goal, scoring a touchdown quickly to send the score to 20-9.
Rice would quickly begin moving the ball downfield, showing flashes of big play potential, but would be stopped by two consecutive penalties, and was forced to turn the ball over to the Longhorns.
Despite a near perfect punt by senior punter Kyle Martens that placed the Longhorns inside the Rice one yard line, Texas would surge down the field, going 99 yards for their second touchdown of the half.
With the score now 27-9, Rice simply began to look winded, being overpowered by the raw athleticism of the Longhorns. Texas would punch in one other touchdown to end the game at 34-9 and send the Owls back to Houston wondering what could have been.
The Owls simply did not have enough yards to really compete, despite the fantastic defensive performance in the first half. Sophomore Taylor McHargue looked good in the pocket, but had no passes longer than 14 yards, with most of his 14 completions being simple dump passes and outs.
The Owls running back by committee was effective, with redshirt senior Tyler Smith and redshirt sophomore Turner Peterson rushing for more than 100 combined yards. The big question during the game was: Where was standout redshirt junior running back Sam McGuffie? McGuffie, who has been battling leg injuries, simply was not ready to play said Bailiff.
"He was cleared," Bailiff said. "Saturday in warm ups you could tell he wasn't 100 percent. We made the decision. He knew going into that game that he was going to get the sweep and the pass. That was going to be his role for the day."
Next week, the Owls will welcome Big 10 opponent Purdue University (1-0) for the first game at Rice Stadium in 2011. Purdue, fresh off a dramatic 27-24 home win against Middle Tennessee State University (0-1). Purdue, who is expected to be a bottom-feeder inside the powerful Big 10, is probably one of Rice's best chances at a non-conference win this season.
"The home opener is always great - playing in front of your own fans," Boswell said. "It is just good to know you have all the fans here supporting you on your sideline and cheering for you when you do something. They always have your back, no matter what."
The kick off against the Boilermakers will be at 2:30 p.m., with a forecasted temperature more than 20 degrees greater than that in West Lafayette, Ind., home of Purdue.