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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Cougars dominate on both sides of the ball for victory against the Owls

The Cougars dominated the Rice owls in a 38-3 victory on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The student section showed up in full force to watch the Cougars defeat the Rice Owls in a resounding victory of 38-3 and retain the Bayou Bucket trophy during the team’s first home game of the season.

The defense dominated in their encore performance to their season-opening victory against the Arizona Wildcats. Defenders were all over the field with interceptions, sacks and fumbles galore. This was in addition to a near perfect performance by starting QB Kyle Allen who ensured the Cougars secured a victory against the Owls in their week two game.

The defenders were led by senior linebacker Matthew Adams who had 11 total tackles — two for a loss and one pass breakup. Sophomore defensive tackle Ed Oliver joined him with six tackles, and his fifth forced fumble in 13 career games by the end of the first half. The defense did not look back once they got on the field.

The defense was not alone in its dominance.

Allen threw dimes all over the field, including 132 yards to senior wide receiver Linell Bonner and a pair of touchdowns to add to his stats. The first quarter alone saw him throw 132 yards and a touchdown, putting the Cougars up by 17 points and holding the Owls without a score.

“We played a clean game — no turnovers, very few penalties, a couple false starts,” Allen said. “But overall, I think it was a very clean game.”

The Cougar offense finished the first half with 46 plays for 314 yards and a score of 38-0, while the defense limited the Owls to just 70 net yards, three forced fumbles and a minimal 12:26 time of possession. This comes just a week after the Cougars struggled to get their offense going against the Wildcats.

“I don’t think there was that big of a difference. I just think that was our first game last week and it was a lot of other teams’ second game last week,” Allen said. “We had to get those first game mistakes out of our way and tonight I think we came together as a unit and gelled a little bit more, just like we will a little more every game. It was just a lot cleaner in that respect.”

The biggest surprise of the night came from true freshman Payton Turner who recorded a sack and key interception in the first quarter to keep the momentum with the Cougars early in the game.

“He’s got a long way to go and a lot to improve on but he’s got a nice frame,” said head coach Major Applewhite. “If he can continue to build, he’s intelligent and he comes from a very good coaches family. He understands what it takes to be competitive.”

The game also saw the emergence of third string sophomore running back Mulbah Car who led the Cougars with 60 yards rushing and a touchdown.

With “Houston” printed jerseys to represent the city and the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, both sides of the Houston team seemed to be locked in for the win, and ended the game by holding the Owls to just three points and 242 yards on offense.

The Bayou Bucket remains in the hands of the Cougars for another year and brings their record to 30 wins in the chase for the trophy.

“Excited about the win, excited to keep the Bucket and I am proud of our guys and the way they came out and came to play,” Applewhite said. “They’re really good people, and this meant a lot for them to play for their city.”

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