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UH survives Rice, extends Bayou Bucket win streak to 7


Freshman receiver Matthew Golden takes a screen pass from senior quarterback Clayton Tune 19 yards into the end zone in the first quarter of UH's win over Rice on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Freshman receiver Matthew Golden takes a screen pass from senior quarterback Clayton Tune 19 yards into the end zone in the first quarter of UH’s win over Rice on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

UH needed late heroics from defensive lineman D’Anthony Jones and Nelson Ceasear to keep the Bayou Bucket with the Cougars as they defeated Rice 34-27 on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium to improve to 2-2 and extend their winning streak to seven against the Owls.

Tied at 27 late in the fourth quarter, Jones sacked Rice quarterback TJ McMahon to force a third and long deep in Owls territory. On the next play,  Jones once again got to McMahon, stripping him of the ball which was picked up by Ceaser and returned 11 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

Despite the offensive disaster on its previous possession, Rice drove the ball down into UH territory looking to tie the game before the Cougars’ defense came up big once again.

With the ball at the UH 35-yard line, McMahon fired a ball that hit off the hands of his intended receiver, Isaiah Esdale, and ended up in the hands of UH senior safety Thabo Mwaniki.

The interception should have sealed the deal for UH but the offense failed to pick up a first down, giving Rice one more chance to tie or win the game.

Needing to go 94 yards in 24 seconds with no timeouts, three big pass plays capped off by a 51-yard bomb put the Owls at the Cougars’ 9-yard line with a single second remaining. The UH defense kept Rice out of the end zone on the final play to secure the win.

While the UH defense came up big when it mattered most, the majority of the game it wasn’t pretty for the Cougars.

As time expired in the first quarter, freshman receiver Matthew Golden found the end zone from 19 yards out on a screen pass from senior quarterback Clayton Tune.

After getting the back early in the second quarter, Tune fired a dart over the middle to senior receiver KeSean Carter, who was lit up by Rice linebacker Treshawn Chamberlain, causing the ball to pop up in the air and into the hands of linebacker Myron Morrison.

The rest of the first half was dominated by the Owls.

Rice capitalized on the turnover four plays later when running back Ari Broussard found paydirt from 2-yards out.

A quick three-and-out from the UH offense, and Rice quickly marched down the field again, needing just five plays to drive 63 yards that ended in another Broussard rushing touchdown.

The Cougars cut into the deficit late in the second quarter as senior kicker Bubba Baxa hit from 37 yards out.

For the fourth straight game, UH went into the half trailing.

UH looked like a different team coming out of the locker room — at least on offense.

The Cougars wasted no time on the opening of the second half, needing just four plays to retake the lead as Tune connected with junior receiver Nathaniel Dell on a deep ball for a 40-yard touchdown.

The lead was short-lived. 

Rice responded with a touchdown of its own on a 52-yard touchdown pass from McMahon to receiver Luke McCaffery to put the Owls up 21-17.

Facing a second-and-29 in Rice territory on the ensuing possession, UH senior running back Ta’Zhawn Henry broke loose for a 28-yard gain down to the Owls’ 4-yard line. Henry did the rest on the next play, finding the endzone to put the Cougars back on top.

Rice tied the game back up late in the third quarter on a Christian VanSickle 42-yard field goal.

Tied at 24 to begin the fourth quarter, the Rice defense stuffed Henry on a fourth-and-inches to give the Owls the ball at the Cougars’ 47-yard line.

A third down sack by UH linebacker Trimarcus Cheeks forced a Rice field goal attempt which VanSickle nailed from 43 yards out to put the Owls up by three.

After a 28-yard catch by Dell to convert on third-and-15 set up UH deep in Rice territory, a pair of holding penalties killed the drive. Baxa connected on his second field goal, this one from 32 yards, to tie the game at 27.

From there, the UH defense did the rest to secure the Cougars’ seventh straight win over Rice.

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