Saturday's Sports Update: Football falls to Northwestern
The football team learned Saturday they just are not a good enough football team to make big mistakes and still win football games.The Owls (1-2) hosted Northwestern University (3-0) in their first game at Rice Stadium of the year. It was the first time the Owls had played a Big Ten team since 2002.
The Owls' defense came storming out of the gate, limiting Northwestern only to a pair of field goals in the first half. The defense forced three three-and-outs and six punts in the first half, providing the offense with favorable field position.
The offense could not capitalize on the field position, as they had a difficult time moving the ball down the field. Quaterbacks Nick Fanuzzi and Taylor Cook shared time in the half and found receivers but failed ever to find that one deep ball to spark the offense. Cook threw an interception from Rice's goal line that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Wildcat Quentin Davie, the defining play of the first half.
It was not until the final few minutes of the first half that Rice moved down the field. Fanuzzi, brought back in after the interception, delivered precise passes on sideline routes to set up a 31 yard Chris Boswell field goal, leaving the score at 13-3 at the half.
The beginning of the second half was all Northwestern. After forcing a Rice three and out on the kickoff, the Wildcats only needed one play to find the endzone, a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dan Persa. The ensuing extra made gave the Wildcats a 20-3 lead.
Fanuzzi led the Owls down the field to respond but was stopped on the Northwestern seven, setting up another Boswell field goal. Northwestern then mounted another long touchdown drive down the field, leaving the margin at 27-6.
Rice continued to fight until the end, with Fanuzzi leading another long drive down the field right as the clock was expiring, resulting in a Rice touchdown. The final margin of the game would end up being 30-13 in favor of Northwestern.
The Owls had unusual passing statistics in the game, as 13 different players caught passes from the two quarterbacks. Despite two interceptions, the quarterbacks combined for 291 yards.
Head Coach David Bailiff was still happy with how his team played.
"We are a pretty good football team," Bailiff said. "But we're not good enough to overcome our mistakes. We have to continue offensively to work on ball security, eliminating the dumb penalties and establishing the line of scrimmage. We are getting a really great effort defensively out of those kids.
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