Nov. 7, 2009
Final Stats |
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
DALLAS - It was just the sort of kick in the gut Rice did not need.
In an offensive rhythm unseen in seven weeks, the Owls marched confidently against SMU seeking to build on their six-point lead as the first half drew to a close. Aside from a slight snafu in the red zone, the Owls were efficient, and as they prepared for a 37-yard Clark Fangmeier field goal attempt, their day could not have unfolded any more ideally.
But Fangmeier had his second kick of the contest blocked, and this time the Mustangs converted the Owls' special teams miscue into a touchdown that swung momentum in favor of SMU, which carried on and claimed a 31-28 Conference USA win on Saturday at Ford Stadium.
Mustangs cornerback Bryan McCann returned the kick, blocked by Sterling Moore, 74 yards for a touchdown as the clock stuck zero. SMU kicker Matt Szymanski tacked on the PAT and the Mustangs took a 21-20 lead into intermission. Rice (0-9, 0-5 Conference USA) had capped three consecutive possessions with touchdowns, the second of which ended with SMU freshman end Margus Hunt blocking the ensuing PAT.
Rice opened the second half with a fruitful march to the SMU 17-yard line, but Fangmeier had his 34-yard field goal blocked by the 6-8 Hunt, his sixth blocked kick on the season. SMU (5-4, 4-1) responded with a 12-play, 73-yard drive closed by Szymanski's 23-yard field goal.
After a fumble snuffed their opening drive at the Rice 30, the Owls regained possession two snaps later when freshman cornerback Kevin Gaddis recorded his first career interception with a pick off SMU quarterback Kyle Padron in the end zone. The Owls replied with a 13-play, 80-yard march culminating in a Nick Fanuzzi scoring strike to Patrick Randolph. That 11-yard pass knotted the score at 7, and after Gaddis recovered a Padron fumble forced by Scott Solomon, Fanuzzi and Randolph hooked up again, connecting on a 33-yard play for a 13-7 lead.
On their first possession of the second quarter, the Owls completed just one pass - an 11-yard strike from Fanuzzi to Pierre Beasley
- yet covered 80 yards in a dozen plays. Charles Ross
capped that drive with a one-yard run that extended the lead to 20-7 with 5:23 left in the half, but the Mustangs closed the margin with a scoring drive of their own, and then repelled the Owls with a blocked kick that swiped momentum.
Fanuzzi completed a four-yard TD pass to Toren Dixon with 1:47 remaining, with the subsequent two-point conversion pass to Taylor Wardlow pulling the Owls to within three points. But Bradley Haynes recovered the onside kick for the Mustangs, who exhausted the clock.