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Friday, September 29, 2023


Revitalized defense, Keenum spark UH comeback

Houston did not start well against Colorado State in its home-opener on Saturday, but it managed to rally from a 14-point deficit to win 38-27 before 22,468 at Robertson Stadium.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 2-1 and claimed their eighth win in 10 games, dating back to last season. Colorado State fell to 0-3 and has lost ten straight games, dating back to last season.

The Cougars also won their fourth home-opener in the last five seasons.

Head coach Art Briles said the home field advantages put his team over the edge.

"We’re very grateful for the supportive crowd we had; it was an outstanding opening day crowd," Briles said. "I was really upset with myself at halftime for not giving them something to cheer about. I was proud we were able to come back in the second half and show them something."

The Cougars struggled to score early and were down 17-3 at halftime, but that changed with redshirt freshman quarterback Case Keenum leading the charge in the second half.

Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. He completed his first 11 passes and finished 18-of-22 for 197 yards.

Keenum’s first touchdown run-an 8-yarder-came with 6:18 left in the game and gave the Cougars a 31-27 lead, their first of the game.

He added another touchdown run with 1:54 remaining to give the Cougars their final points of the night.

The defense also came up huge, forcing two second-half turnovers and a turnover-on-downs on the Rams’ next-to-last possession.

"We fought hard today. The offense struggled and the defense was there to hold us up," Keenum said. "It’s just one of those things where it was a team effort. Not one person can do it. We had everyone firing and it was an awesome win."

Colorado State led for much of the game. Its final score came when senior kicker Jason Smith made a 31-yard field goal with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter and put the Rams up 27-24.

Houston started on its own 40 on the ensuing drive, and Keenum quickly moved them down the field. He completed 4-of-4 passes for 42 yards and carried the ball 4 times for 12 yards before capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown run, a career first.

The defense forced Colorado State to turn the ball over on downs on the subsequent drive, sealing the win for the Cougars.

"(The defense) played some great ball out there," senior running back Anthony Alridge said. "They were flying to the ball and were very aggressive. They were playing with some intensity and they were playing like mad dogs."

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