North Texas showed the ability to stay with Rice for the first several possessions. The accurate arm of Mean Green QB Giovanni Vizza kept his team in the game, pulling them to within 8 points at 28-20. That would be as close as they would come to the Owls the rest of the way, as Rice scored 49 unanswered points.
The Owl Defense stiffened, the Owl Offense heated up, and North Texas unraveled the rest of the way in what would become a blowout 77-20 victory for the Owls. The 77 points scored by Rice is a C-USA record, and actually could have been higher. The Owls had the ball several times in North Texas territory late in the game but chose to run the ball into the line several times rather than run the score up.
Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard set the NCAA record for touchdowns scored. They connected on a three-yard scoring play in the first quarter to tie the record. Then broke the record when Clement hit Dillard on a 18-yard strike with 4:40 left in the second quarter. Dillard also tied the NCAA record for individual touchdowns scored with 50.
Overall Rice compiled 502 yards of offense - but helped itself just as much by creating turnovers and showing solid special teams play. The latter was particularly encouraging.
They created turnovers, blocked an extra point and a field goal, and allowed no substantial returns on kick and punt coverage.
The interceptions were both things of beauty, Freshman Arnaud Gascon-Nadon made the first when he leaped into the passing lane of North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza, plucking the laser right out of the air, then sprinted in from 13 yards out. The second came when Christopher Douglas came up with a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage. He outran North Texas' Riley Dodge to the endzone, scoring from 40 yards out. JaCorey Shepherd had the last interception when he wrestled a ball away from his man - showing excellent technique and positioning in order to do so.
Besides the interceptions, Rice was able to capitalize on a couple of Mean Green Special Teams fumbles. They also forced another when Justin Hill took the ball away from Mean Green return man John Shorter in mid-stride.
The Owl Defense didn't completely shut the Mean Green down, especially early on, but did figure out a way to derail Todd Dodge's bunch. North Texas had been averaging 4.7 yards per carry coming into the game. They were able to inprove upon that Saturday, rushing for 5.2 ypc against the Owls. Importantly though, Rice kept them out of the end zone the ebtire second half - and yielded no big plays the entire game.
The Owls travel to Tulsa next weekend to shoot it out with the Golden Hurricane.
- The Owls got nice returns Saturday from both JaCorey Shepherd and Andrew Sendejo. Shepherd returned a kick 39 yards, while Sendejo had a 21 yard punt return.
- Justin Hill logged minutes at Linebacker for the Owls late in the game. While he's an incredible athlete, he still needs lots of reps at is new position before he can make an impact.
- Air Force Academy Prep transfer Ronnie Lillard had 3 tackles Saturday, including one for a loss.
- Tanner Shuch had a solid game, recording two sacks. Shuck collected both on rollouts where he used his excellent closing speed to sack the QB before he could release the ball.
- Charlie Wiebusch and Jake Hicks got starts on the Offensive Line in yesterday's game.
- The Owls used a bit of trickery to score one of their touchdowns when they handed off to Jeramy Goodson on a reverse, Goodson pulled up and threw a 30 yard scoring strike to Jarett Dillard for the score in the corner of the end zone.