Sept. 22, 2012
After over 1200 yards of total offense, an epic offensive slugfest was settled by just five yards, as Marshall's Kevin Grooms covered that distance give the Herd a 54-51 win over Rice in double overtime at Rice Stadium on Saturday.
Marshall entered the game as the nation's top passing offense, but the Herd turned to their running game, finishing with 361 yards while throwing for 259. The Owls finished with 647 yards, the fifth most in school history with a balanced attack that topped 300 yards on the ground (301) and through the air (346).
""We performed well enough on offense to win that one," Rice head coach David Bailiff said."We have to play better on defense. We missed too many tackles today. We have to win more of those one-on-one battles. We have to get better, and that starts with the coaches. This game was a disappointment for the football program," he added. Grooms score in the second overtime came after Rice had been held to a field goal in its second possession of the extra period. The Owls force the overtime thanks to the heroics of quarterback Taylor McHargue, who brought the Owls back from a 10-point deficit in the last four minutes.
McHargue shattered every measuring stick for personal performance, becoming the second Rice player to top 450 yards of total offense, finishing with 467. He threw for 314 and three scores and ran for 153 and another score, with 98 of those rushing yards coming in the course of three plays in the last three minutes that put Rice in position to win the game.
Down 41-31, he fashioned an improbable 43-yard scoring run that began as an escape from the Marshall pass rush and ended with a sprint into the northeast corner of the end zone.
After a Boswell kickoff pinning Marshall at its own six, Cameron Nwosu made a pair of key stops to thwart the Herd's plans to run out the clock and force a punt to give the ball right back to McHargue and the offense.
He hit Jordan Taylor with a 13-yard gain on first down, then rushed for eight. An incompletion to Turner Petersen was followed by a nine-yard run by Petersen for a first down. McHargue then busted off an epic 47-yard run that ended at the Marshall two, but also ended with McHargue on the ground in pain after suffering an injury when he hit the ground. He did not return to the game.
"I did not see how Taylor went down at the goal line, but he did hurt his shoulder and we had to bring Driphus (Jackson) in," Bailiff said. "That was a chance that we feel we should have won the game right there. We had first and goal on the one yard line and couldn't manage to punch it in." After a one-yard run by Turner Petersen put the ball at the Marshall one, a false start penalty later moved the Owls back to the six and they eventually were force to settled for a Chris Boswell field goal to send the game to overtime. Marshall scored to open the overtime, but Jackson led Rice to a tying score. He hit Jordan Taylor with a 22-yard strike to the three and then scored his first career touchdown two plays later to send the game to a second overtime.
Jackson led Rice to one first down on the Owls second overtime possession, but the drive stalled at the Marshall 11 and Boswell booted his third field goal to give Rice its first lead of the day, setting the stage for Grooms' game winner.
McHargue's three TD passes allowed him to move into ninth on the Rice career chart with 21, and two of those scores came on long tosses to Sam McGuffie, who finished with a career-high 109 yards.
Boswell finished with 15 points on the afternoon, thanks to three field goals and five extra points. He moved into second place among Rice kickers, and fifth overall, in scoring with 196 points.
Defensively the Owls matched their season total for sacks with four against Marshall, despite having a pair of offensive players (Derek Brown and Broderick Jackson) take turns in the defensive end rotation because of injuries. The four sacks also matched the total surrendered by Marshall in the first three weeks of the season.
The Owls will be back in action next Saturday when they face cross-town rivals Houston in the annual battle for the Bayou Bucket, with kickoff set for 2:30 next Saturday at Reliant Stadium.