Cougars defeat Owls for fifth straight Bayou Bucket win
After trailing at the half, the Cougars roared back in the final 30 minutes to defeat the Owls 45-27 and keep Houston’s Bayou Bucket win streak alive.
Junior D’Eriq King led the Cougars’ offense with 320 yards passing and three touchdowns while junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver led the defense with 13 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
Houston started the game with some mildly successful runs and a big pass to sophomore Marquez Stevenson to put the team in field goal range, and the Cougars scored the first points of the game.
Oliver made his presence known immediately and made four tackles in the first six plays of the game. Sophomore defensive end Isaiah Chambers earned his first sack as a Cougar to end the Owls’ first drive of the game.
UH senior linebacker Emeke Egbule made the second big defensive play of the game by picking off junior quarterback Shawn Stankavage to give the Cougars the ball at the Owls’ 23 yard line, which the Cougars failed to capitalize on when the team missed a field goal.
Rice’s junior running back Emmanuel Esukpa rushed for 52 yards to get the Owls to the 29 yard line. Rice followed the play up with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Stankavage to sophomore tight end Jordan Myers.
Houston had to show how it could handle adversity, but it was stopped on fourth and short and turned over the ball on downs at midfield.
The Cougars’ defense continued to come up short and could not stop the run. Senior kicker Jack Fox made a 44-yard field goal to put Rice up 10-3 with ten minutes left in the second quarter.
The Cougars struggled to moved the ball until a triple option reverse to Stevenson sent him to the end zone on a 51-yard run. Houston missed the kick and stayed behind at 10-9.
Stankavage and the Owls were able to use the great field position, gained by a muffed punt reception by freshman Bryson Smith, to score another touchdown to grow the lead to 17-9.
Rice led 17-9 with five minutes left in the half and the Cougars roared back. Junior receiver Courtney Lark burned the cornerback covering him, and King connected with him on a 40-yard pass to score a touchdown. The Cougars made the two-point conversion to tie the game 17-17.
With just two minutes left in the half, Stankavage led the Owls on an 88-yard drive to put the team up 24-17.
Rice received the ball to start the second half and marched up the field to get another field goal, increasing the lead to 10 points.
Houston fired back with a 46-yard pass to junior Keith Corbin, a 25-yard run by junior Mulbah Car and a 4-yard run by King to score a touchdown in just 56 seconds.
Stankavage went down with seven minutes left in the third quarter and was taken out for redshirt junior Jackson Tyner. Tyner completed a big 36-yard pass to get into the Cougars’ half of the field. He later attempted a long field goal but missed.
Houston finally got a stop in the third quarter to give itself a chance to take the lead. King threw a 57-yard touchdown to Stevenson to make the score 31-27.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars finally pulled everything together and started to pull ahead.
The Owls went back to the air in the next drive and quickly got back into the Cougars’ half but missed the field goal once again.
King threw a 18-yard touchdown to Lark to extend the lead to 39-27 with 13 minutes remaining. The Cougars were moving the ball again until junior receiver Terry Mark fumbled the ball after catching it and gave the Owls good field position.
Rice was unable to convert and missed another field goal to keep Houston’s 12-point lead intact. UH went on to score one final touchdown as junior Patrick Carr ran 37 yards into the end zone.
Chambers had three sacks in the game. This was his first game since 2015, as he redshirted in 2016 and sat out to fulfill transfer requirements in 2017.
Houston will play Arizona next Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at TDECU stadium in the team’s home opener.