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Tuesday, July 05, 2022 — Houston, TX

Rice falls to Aggies

By By Evan Neustater     9/17/14 8:26am

Despite out-gaining their opponent in yards 481 to 477, the Rice University football team (0-2) could not overcome the Associated Press No. 7 Texas A&M University Aggies (3-0), losing 38-10.

In front of 103,867 fans Saturday night, the Owls demonstrated a solid offensive effort through the air and on the ground, although the offense struggled to score points. Halfway through the first quarter, the Owls had an opportunity to go up 3-0 on the seventh-ranked team in the nation, only to have a 22-yard field goal missed wide right by senior kicker James Hairston. The Aggies, led by sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill, scored the only points of the first quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hill to freshman receiver Speedy Noil to go up 7-0 heading into the second period.

The Owls continued to hang in the game through the first half, finishing with 30 rushes for 151 yards and adding 118 yards through the air. With 12 minutes to go in the second quarter, redshirt junior quarterback Driphus Jackson found redshirt senior receiver Mario Hull on a 35-yard strike for Rice’s first points of the evening. The Owls finished the half with the advantage in offensive yards 269 to 215, although A&M held the advantage on the scoreboard, 21-7.



The second half held similar results for the Owls, who were outscored 17-3 in the final half. A&M quarterback Kenny Hill finished the game 20-31 for 300 yards with four touchdown passes while also adding 38 yards on the ground.

Even though the team only scored 10 points, the Owls’ offense showed the ability to both move and control the ball, highlighted by the play of sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard, as well as Jackson. Davis and Dillard combined for 34 carries for 136 yards, while Jackson completed 21 of 32 passes, good for 212 yards and the one touchdown to Hull. Jackson also added 13 carries for 84 yards rushing on the night, a career-best rushing day for the quarterback.

Head Coach David Bailiff said he was thrilled with Jackson’s performance and is excited for him to lead the team the rest of the season.

“[Jackson] is a true student of the game and the true leader of this football team,” Bailiff said. “I thought he was magnificent in how he led the team … I was very pleased with his decision making.”

Rice exhibited offensive balance, recording 241 yards passing and 240 yards rushing in the game. Additionally, the Owls’ offense controlled the ball for 43:14 of the 60 minutes in the game.

Bailiff said he was impressed with the balance the team showed and particularly highlighted the performance of the running game.

“I was really pleased with our running game in this one,” Bailiff said. “I thought our offensive line did an incredible job opening holes. I thought our running backs ran extremely hard.”

Davis also said he was proud of the team’s ability to run the ball. According to Davis, the play of the offensive line was the biggest factor to the running game’s success.

“Throughout the season, I feel like our offense has come a long way,” Davis said. “I feel that our offensive line has gotten a lot better. I give them a lot of the credit for our performance on Saturday, and we’ve come together a lot. Going into the Old Dominion game, we’re going to be explosive.”

Additionally, Bailiff said that, despite giving up 38 points to the Aggies, he was pleased with how the defense handled the fourth-highest scoring offense in the country, which averages 54.3 points per game this season.

“Defensively I actually thought we performed admirably, even though we gave up 38 points,” Bailiff said. “What we take out of that is we gave up fewer missed tackles than a year ago; I thought we tackled extremely well that whole football game.”

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Alex Lyons also said he was satisfied with how his defensive unit performed.

“I think more than anything, as a defense, we showed how resilient we are in the face of adversity,” Lyons said. “We fought very hard, held A&M to 400 total yards, and handled a pretty explosive offense.”

Lyons also said the defense will be improved the rest of the season because of the first two contests.

“I feel like we played really good as a unit, a lot of young guys stepped up,” Lyons said. “I feel like we’re going to be one hell of a defense headed forward.”

Senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor was held out of action again and has yet to see playing time this season. Junior All-Conference defensive tackle Christian Covington was also injured on the first defensive snap of the game and did not return to the field. Senior safety Julius White, junior defensive tackle Ross Winship and senior defensive end Zach Patt were also injured during the game.

According to Bailiff, Covington and Winship should all be ready to play next weekend.

“I think we’ll probably have [Covington and Winship] on Saturday,” Bailiff said. “Talking to Christian, he feels pretty confident that he’ll be able to come back. He’s saying that he’s feeling a lot better, feeling strong, and he’s ready to come back and play.”

After facing the current Associated Press No. 6 and No. 9 teams in the country consecutively on the road, the Owls will return home next week to host Old Dominion University, a first-year member of the Conference USA. The conference opener for both teams will kick off Saturday, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. in Rice Stadium.

 



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