by Chuck Pool (cpool@edu) -
Sam Glaesmann ran for two scores and threw for a third to lead a furious Rice rally that fell just short as Louisiana Tech scored twice in the final minute to take a 42-28 win at Rice Stadium on Saturday.
Looking to snap a five-game losing streak overall and a three-game streak against Tech in which the Bulldogs had averaged 60 points, Rice responded with its strongest effort since a week two win at UTEP, only see their hopes dashed in the final minutes.
"In my 11 years at Rice, that was one of the hardest fought games I've ever witnessed these young men play," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "They played extremely hard, they played next man up."
Glaesmann piled up a career-best 255 yards of total offense, throwing for 187 and adding 68 on the ground as he sparked the Owls to 434 yards on the afternoon, their highest total since they finished with 437 in a 31-14 win at UTEP earlier this year.
"As a redshirt freshmen quarterback (Sam) is getting better with every rep that he takes," Bailiff said. "We knew going into it with a young quarterback there was going to be growing pains, but he's getting better; he's making better decisions. Everything he does is a learning moment for him out there. I think he's going to have a big-time career. When he grows he's going to be fabulous."
Trailing 21-7 at the half, Glaesmann led the Owls on a methodical 11-play, 67-yard drive to open the third quarter, cutting the deficit to seven with his second touchdown run of the day. After the Bulldogs answered with a touchdown, Glaesmann and the Owls had an answer of their own, marching 61 yards with redshirt freshman Will Phillips covering the final eight yards to score his first career touchdown on his first career carry.
Leading 28-21 with 14:03 to go in the game, the Bulldogs could not answer and Parker Hanusa and Jorian Clark combined on a tackle for loss on second down at midfield, forcing a punt to give the Owls the ball at their 25 with 10:24 left.
Ten plays later, Rice was faced with a fourth and 12 at its 49 yards line with just under five minutes remaining. Glaesmann found redshirt freshman Aaron Cephus cutting across the middle and the produce to Dekaney High School product turned up field and sprinted to the goal line for a 51-yard, game-tying touchdown.
It was Cephus's fifth reception of 50 yards or longer, which is tied for the national lead, and his fourth touchdown reception--all covering 50 yards or more.
However the Owls hope for a stirring finish to send the Families Weekend crowd of 19,992 home with a win were dashed as the Bulldogs covered 75 yards in 11 plays to take the lead with 1:00 left and then added an interception return for a score just 24 seconds later.
Rice (1-7/1-3) will return to the road next week, taking on UAB next Saturday at 2 p.m.