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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Football: Cougars destroy Demons to start season

Those who thought the Cougars would not take Saturday’s game against Northwestern State seriously were way off.

UH compiled 538 yards, including 347 in the first half, to roll to a 55-7 trouncing of the Demons before a crowd of 22,043 at Robertson Stadium.’ This one was not close after the first quarter, when the Cougars fired on all cylinders.

‘I thought that we came out and started fast,’ head coach Kevin Sumlin said. ‘That was an improvement over last year.’

The Cougars (1-0) did not need much time to score their first touchdown of 2009, putting together a five-play, 86-yard drive in 59 seconds. Charles Sims’ 23-yard receiving touchdown with 11:34 left in the first quarter’ capped the drive.

After UH’s defense forced the Demons into a three-and-out on their second possession,’ its offense needed only four plays and 1:12 to push’ its lead to 14-0.

Bryce Beall busted through a huge hole created by’ the offensive line, earning his first touchdown with 8:59 left in the opening period.

From there, the Cougars simply outmatched the Demons. The game was decided by halftime, when UH’ held a 41-7 advantage.

UH’s defense owned the field during the first half, as it held Northwestern State (0-1) to 149 yards. The Demons also’ fumbled twice and converted only three of nine third-down attempts.

‘I think that’s all part of team football,’ Sumlin said. ‘Our defense went in and answered. We held them and got the ball back, so that’s a team thing.’

The offense was more efficient than the defense before the break, scoring all six of its’ first-half touchdowns with drives of less than 2:30 each. Quarterback Case Keenum set the tone, completing 17 of 21 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns.

Keenum returned in the second half for only one drive, ending his stellar 359-yard performance with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chaz Rodriguez.

The junior quarterback’s favorite target Saturday, Sims, was making his collegiate debut. Sims was not effective on the ground, but displayed his speed and illusive abilities as a wideout, earning most of his 115 first-half receiving yards after the catch.

‘The addition of Sims really helps our offense,’ Sumlin said.

Patrick Edwards, who made an incredible recovery from a compound fracture in his right leg, also made his presence felt. The’ receiver caught four passes for 52 yards, including a 20-yard reception on the Cougars’ third offensive play from scrimmage.

Time of possession meant nothing in this contest, as the Demons controlled the ball for almost 13 more minutes than UH, but could find the end zone only once. UH also displayed discipline, committing only one penalty for 6 yards.

Punter Chase Turner did not see much action, but took advantage of his appearances. He’ placed three of his four punts inside the Demons’ 20-yard line and also’ booted a 52-yarder in the second half.

Demons running back Quentin Castille, who transferred from Nebraska’ on August 25′ after the Cornhuskers dismissed’ him violating team rules, did not impress in his return to Houston. The La Porte product will need more time to adjust to his new team,’ as’ he’ had’ only 12 yards on 15 carries.

Northwestern State quarterback John Hundley was overmatched by UH’s defense, completing 22 of 35 passes for only 106 yards. He was forced into short throws because the Cougars’ secondary provided excellent coverage.

UH faces a daunting task’ Sept. 12,’ when’ it travels to Stillwater, Okla. to face Associated Press No. 9 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ proved they are not flukes with Saturday’s 24-10 victory over No. 13 Georgia, so the Cougars know they will need their best performance in week two.

‘Now we’re going to play the big boys,’ defensive end Tyrell Graham said. ‘We just have to go out there and have fun.’

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