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Friday, September 29, 2023


UH defeats Rice, retains Bayou Bucket

When redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland connected with freshman receiver Larry McDuffey for a touchdown early in the first quarter it was the Cougars’ first lead of the season. They never relinquished it.

The Cougars retained the Bayou Bucket trophy after defeating Rice University 35-14 on Saturday at Reliant stadium. It was UH’s first season victory and its 28th win in the classic.

Though the offense had a slow start in the first half, Piland and the offense helped put the game away in the third and fourth quarter.

Head coach Tony Levine said it was a collective effort.

“We made plays on offense, I thought we played particularly well on defense and we made plays on special teams,” Levine said. “That’s what it takes to win a football game.”

UH hurt themselves early with penalties and an interception thrown by Piland, but regained its rhythm late in the second quarter after sophomore receiver, Daniel Spencer caught a quick slant, broke four tackles and scampered 31 yards to the end zone.

The Cougars were fluid on offense from that point on.

“What you saw out there — especially the Daniel Spencer touchdown play is players making plays,” Levine said. “When players make plays it is contagious and you get enthusiasm and emotion. When you have that you get momentum.”

Junior running back Charles Sims had a big day, finishing with 158 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line, now healthy, gave Sims running lanes and he took advantage.

UH wore Rice down up front, as 126 of Sim’s yards came after the break.

“It felt pretty good to get back out there in the groove of things, they opened up the holes and helped me make plays,” Sims said.

Piland and McDuffey were in sync early. McDuffey finished the first half with seven catches and Piland threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns.

The UH defense also made an imprint on the game. Taylor Mchargue, the Owls’ junior quarterback, didn’t start due to a shoulder injury and UH swarmed his replacement all night.

The Cougars sacked redshirt freshman quarterback, Driphus Jackson five times. Senior linebacker Phillip Steward said the team would have employed the same game plan no matter who was behind center.

“We were prepared, for both of them,” Steward said. “It didn’t matter who it was we were going to put the pressure on them, that’s what we do as a defense.”

Steward said UH went above and beyond to secure a victory.

“We knew the last three games didn’t go our way so we had to do something extra,” Steward said. “Coming in at 6 a.m. that’s what we had to do so we did it.”

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