Owls Surrender Bayou Bucket, Fall to Houston 73-14
Owls fall behind early and can't rally in their season finale against their archrivals
Nov. 28, 2009
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
It took all of 15 seconds for the Bayou Bucket to change addresses.
Having endured a bitter three-game losing skid at the hands of its rival, Rice celebrated with extended glee after defeating Houston in the 2008 season finale, a victory that relocated the Bayou Bucket to South Main. In their first crack to reclaim the trophy, the Cougars didn't waste time.
UH receiver/return specialist Tyron Carrier took the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, fueling the Cougars to a 73-14 Conference USA win that closed the Owls' season Saturday night at Robertson Stadium.
Whatever hopes the Owls (2-10, 2-6 C-USA) harbored of extending their two-game winning streak into the offseason were quickly extinguished when Carrier dodged a handful of tacklers before dashing down the sideline fronting the Rice bench. UH led 7-0 just 15 seconds into the contest, and after Rice punted to end its first drive, the Cougars (10-2, 6-2) scored on offense before adding another return for a touchdown, this one by Brandon Brinkley when he turned a Nick Fanuzzi interception into a 45-yard touchdown. Just six minutes, 17 seconds in, UH led 21-0.
"They start the game with a kickoff return by Carrier, an offense touchdown and an interception for a touchdown. That's not the way you would start a game against a team like Houston," Rice coach David Bailiff said. "They put us on our heels and we could never recover."
The Cougars added a Matt Hogan field goal and led 24-0 before the Owls recorded their initial first down. The lead swelled to 59-0 by the intermission and 66-0 before Rice freshman tailback Charles Ross tallied two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter. By that point the Cougars were well on their way to the West Division crown and a date opposite East Division champion East Carolina in the C-USA title game.
"I'm speechless after something like that," said Owls sophomore safety Travis Bradshaw, who produced a game-high 11 tackles. "We thought we were going to go in there and compete and it was going to be a good game, and right from the start they took it away. It's tough. Those seniors in there, we put a lot out there for them. It's disappointing."
Ross rushed for 105 yards, his first career 100-yard game. His two rushing touchdowns lifted his season total to 11, the most since Ed Bailey had 12 in 2004. Ross finished the year with a team-leading 491 rushing yards to become the first freshman to lead Rice in rushing since Trevor Cobb rushed for 545 yards in 1989. With sophomore Tyler Smith rushing for a game-high 113 yards, Ross and Smith became the first Rice tandem to rush for 100 yards in a single game since Quinton Smith, Tyler's older brother, and John Wall rushed for 143 and 156 yards, respectively, in the Owls' 42-34 win over Tulane on Nov. 12, 2005.
"The stats mean nothing without the win," Ross said.
Senior linebacker Terrance Garmon closed his career by matching his single-game career high with nine tackles, set last season at Tulsa. Bradshaw posted his sixth consecutive double-digit tackle game, increasing his season total to 121, a figure that ties Larry Izzo's 1995 performance for the eight-best single-season total in program history.