No, 7 ranked Texas A&M trailed Rice early 7-0 but with Matt Joeckel at quarterback came back to take a 28-21 halftime lead, Johnny Manziel came on in the second half to extend that lead to the 52-31 winning margin. The Aggie defense were missing several players suspended for the game, and that showed, as Rice gained a lot of yards.
Texas A&M received the opening kickoff and picked up one first down before being forced to punt. A 55-yard punt by Drew Kaser pinned Rice on their 4-yard line.
It took Rice just 5 plays and 1:31 to go 96 yards for the first touchdown of the game. A 26-yard pass from Taylor McHargue to Connor Cella and a 56-yard scramble by McHargue gave the Owls and 1st-and-goal at the Aggie 8-yard line, and Charles Ross scored on a 1-yard run. Chris Boswell's extra point gave Rice a 7-0 lead at the 11:38 mark in the first quarter.
The Aggies responded with Matt Joeckel directing a 10-play, 75-yard drive, all but 22 of those yards on the ground with runs by Ben Malena and Tra Carson. Ben Malena scored on a 4-yard run. An extra point by Taylor Bertolet tied the game at 7 with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
A 38-yard kickoff return gave Rice good field position at their 43-yard line. Rice drove 57 yards in 5 plays, with McHargue throwing a 19-yard touchdown to Charles Ross. Boswell's extra point gave Rice a 14-7 lead with seeven minutes left in the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts, Matt Joeckel and the Aggies drove 80 yards in 12 plays, with Tra Carson scoring the first touchdown of his Aggie career on a 1-yard run. Bertolet's extra point tied the game 14-14 early in the second quarter.
Following a Rice punt, Matt Joeckel hit an in-stride Ricky Seals-Jones for a 71-yard Aggie touchdown. Bertolet's extra point gave the Aggies their first lead of the game, 21-14, with 9:32 to go in the second quarter.
A 19-yard Rice punt gave Texas A&M possession at midfield. A 9-play Aggie drive culminated in a 2-yard Tra Carson touchdown that extended the Aggie lead to 28-14 with 3:42 left in the first half.
Rice used most of that 3:42 to drive 70 yards in 9 plays, when on 3rd-and-goal Taylor McHargue threw a pass intended for Jordan Taylor that was batted into the air by Aggie defensive back Tony Hurd and Jordan Taylor came down with the ball and scored a touchdown. Boswell's extra point cut the Aggie lead to 28-21 with ten seconds left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Aggie kicker returner Ben Malena fumbled and Rice recovered at the Aggie 28-yard line. Chris Boswell missed a 45-yard field goal as first half time expired, with the Aggies holding a slim 28-21 lead.
At the half, Texas A&M led in first downs, 17 to 14, while Rice led in total yards, 332 to 315.
For Texas A&M, Matt Joeckel completed 14 of 19 passes for 190 yards and 1 TD. Ben Malena had rushed for 65 yards and 1 TD and Tra Carson added 43 yards and 2 TDs. Ricky Seals-Jones had 3 catches for 84 yards and 1 TD and Mike Evans had 4 catches for 52 yards.
For Rice, Taylor McHargue had completed 12 of 18 passes for 152 yards and 2 TDs and rushed for 74 yards on 7 carries. Charles Ross had rushed for 66 yards and 1 TD and Jordan Taylor had caught 5 passes for 61 yards and 1 TD.
Rice received the opening kickoff of the second half. Facing 3rd-and-10, a Taylor McHargue pass attempt was intercepted by Aggie cornerback Tramain Jacobs at the Rice 40-yard line.
Enter Johnny Manziel!
Johnny's first play from scrimmage was a 12-yard scramble. After another 7-yard Manziel run, an incompletion, and a sack, the Aggies settled for a 44-yard Taylor Bertolet field goal that extended the Aggie lead to 31-21 early in the third quarter.
On Rice's next possession, a Taylor McHargue pass was intercepted by Aggie safety Clay Honeycutt at the A&M 48-yard line and Honeycutt returned the interception 18 yards to the Rice 34-yard line.
After Johnny Manziel picked up a first down on an 8-yard run, Manziel connected with Mike Evans over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown. Beertolet's extra point gave the Aggies a 17-point lead, 38-21 at the 9:43 mark in the third quarter.
After an exchange of punts, Rice mounted a 14-play, 81-yard drive, with Charles Ross scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Bosswell's extra point cut the Aggie lead to ten, 38-28.
Texas A&M responded by driving 93 yards in 5 plays, with Johnny Manziel throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ben Malena out of the backfield. Bertolet's extra point restored the Aggies' 17-point lead, 45-28, with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Down 17 with ten minutes to play, Rice went for it onm a 4th-and-one at their 28-yard line and the Aggie defense came up to stuff Charles Ross for a 2-yard loss, giving the Aggies the ball at the Rice 26-yard line.
Ben Malena had a 17-yard run before Manziel connected with Mike Evans for a 9-yard touchdown. After the play Johnny Manziel was flagged for unsportsmanlike for a verbal exchange he had with a couple of Rice players. Bertolet's now longer extra point gave the Aggies a 52-28 lead.
Rice used 13 plays to drive to the Aggie 26 yard line before Chris Boswell kicked a 43-yard field goal to make the score 52-31 with just ovet two minuites left in the game.
Kevin Sumlin sent Matt Joeckel back in at quarterback for the Aggies and A&M used three rushing plays to run out the clock, preserving a 52-31 win for Texas A&M in their season opener.
Late in the game, both Daeshon Hall and DeShazer Everette were ejected from the game, Hall for fighting and Everette for targeting, meaning both will be suspended for the first half of next weeks's game against Sam Houston St.
For the game, Rice edged the Aggies in both yards, 509 to 486, and in first downs, 28 to 25.
For Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel completed 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for 19 yards on 6 carries. Matt Joeckel completed 14 of 19 passes for 190 yards and 1 TD. Ben Malena rushed for 82 yards and 1 TD on 12 carries. Tra Carson rushed for 76 yards and 2 TDs on 14 carries. Mike Evans had 5 catches for 84 yards and 2 TDs. Ricky Seals-Jones had 3 catches for 84 yards and 1 TD and Malcolm Kennedy caught 4 passes for 56 yards.
For Rice, Taylor McHargue had completed 18 of 29 passes for 180 yards and 2 TDs with 2 costly INTs and rushed for 78 yards on 8 carries. Charles Ross had rushed for 107 yards and 1 TD on 19 carries and caught 2 passes for 24 yards and 1 TD. Jordan Taylor caught 7 passes for 68 yards and 1 TD.