Football defeats North Texas
The Rice University football team defeated the University of North Texas 41-21 Saturday, Oct. 25 and improved its record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA, giving the Owls their fourth consecutive victory.
Facing off against the Mean Green, the Owls were seeking their fourth consecutive victory and second straight conference win. Rice scored on the first offensive play of the game on an 88 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Driphus Jackson to senior wide receiver Jordan Taylor, tying the record for the longest scoring play in school history. Rice and North Texas would exchange scores for the remainder of the first quarter, ending the opening period tied at 14 points apiece. North Texas scored the only touchdown of the second quarter and carried a 21-14 lead heading into halftime.
The Owls came out of halftime and scored 27 unanswered points to secure the 41-21 victory. The Rice defense held North Texas to only 45 yards of offense in the second half, helping Rice to its 10th home victory in its last 11 home games.
Rice’s offense, led by Jackson, totaled 233 passing yards and 188 rushing yards in the game. Jackson completed 13 of 26 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown while sophomore running backs Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard combined for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor led the team in receiving, recording 137 yards on four catches and becoming the fourth player in school history to surpass 2,000 career receiving yards.
Rice’s defense highlighted the team’s winning effort, particularly in the second half, holding North Texas to 216 yards, the best defensive performance of the season and 133 yards below North Texas’s season average.
Less than five minutes into the third quarter, junior cornerback Ryan Pollard intercepted a pass from North Texas quarterback Andrew McNulty and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Owls their first defensive score of the season.
Pollard said the score was a crucial component of Rice’s defensive effort contributing to the victory.
"Any time I get the ball [on a pick], I tell myself in my head that I'm taking it all the way back," Pollard said. "I knew in the back of my head that I was going to take it all the way back and give us a spark and get us going."
The Owls recorded four sacks and nine tackles for loss, led by junior defensive lineman Christian Covington, who recorded one and a half sacks in the game.
Rice will look to earn its fifth straight victory against Florida International University on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Miami, FL. FIU currently boasts a 3-5 record, including a 2-4 record against Division-1 opponents. FIU is coming off a 45-13 loss to Marshall University and has the 107th ranked offense in the country, totalling an average of 21.5 points per game. A victory would improve the Owls’ record to 5-3 and 3-1 in conference and would put them one win away from bowl eligibility.
The game against FIU will kick off at 11 a.m. CST in Miami, FL.
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