Dec. 7, 2013
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HOUSTON, Texas - Rice University football started and finished strong to capture its first-ever Conference USA championship with a 41-24 win over Marshall on Saturday at Rice Stadium. With the win, the Owls earned a bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31.
Charles Ross rushed for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Jordan Taylor caught six passes for 131 yards and a score. Most Valuable Player Luke Turner tossed two touchdown passes (on two attempts) and ran for 49 yards on nine carries. Taylor McHargue passed for 196 yards, including a touchdown, to add to his 34 rushing yards.
Michael Kutzler led the defense with seven tackles, while Julius White secured an interception to help the cause.
The Owls (10-3) piled up 487 yards on offense while holding the Thundering Herd's (9-4) 371 yards.
Rice started strong with touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game. On the opening drive, Turner took a handoff and completed a 35-yard pass to Donte Moore. The Owls then tacked on a 75-yard scoring play as McHargue found Taylor open for a pass.
The Herd responded with a field goal early in the second quarter before Ross bulled his way into the endzone to put Rice in front, by 18 points. Marshall reached paydirt for the first time on the day to cut its deficit to 21-10 at the intermission.
The Owls tacked on a pair of scores in the third quarter on a 17-yard jaunt by Darik Dillard and another Turner pass, this time to freshman Connor Cella, putting the home team in front, 34-10.
Marshall opened the fourth quarter with a score to pull back within 17 points, but Ross put the game back out of reach with a 16-yard score. The Herd closed out the game's scoring with a touchdown pass with 5:35 remaining to provide the final margin.
Check back to RiceOwls.com for more coverage of Rice's win on Saturday.