Rice 41, Marshall 24
December 7, 2013
It took Rice 56 years to earn the right to play for an outright conference crown, and the Owls were in no mood to extend the drama any longer, striking early and often to stun favored Marshall and roll to a 41-24 win in the Conference USA Championship Game at Rice Stadium.
Under gray skies and in icy conditions, the Owls wasted little time in establishing the tone of the game, gashing The Herd on a 10-play, 85 yard drive with the opening possession. Luke Turner capped the drive by taking a pitch from Taylor McHargue and then tossing a 35-yard scoring pass to Donte Moore.
The Owls defense gave the Owls the ball right back, forcing the powerful Marshall offense into the first of four 3-and-outs. Taylor McHargue then connected with Jordan Taylor on a 75-yard touchdown pass to give the Owls a 14-0 lead with over eight minutes left in the first stanza.
The 75-yard play was the longest touchdown pass in C-USA Championship history as well as the longest reception of Taylor's career. He finished the day with 131 yards, his fourth career 100-yard receiving day.
After Marshall mustered a field goal early in the second quarter, Charles Ross, who would go on to rush for 109 yards, scored the first of his two touchdowns.
Marshall cut the lead to 21-10 at the break, and looked to draw closer by taking the second half kickoff. However Julius White picked off a Rakeem Cato pass to end their opening drive. Two series later, Darik Dillard scored from 17 yards out to build the lead to 28-10. Moments later, the Owls were back at the goal line and Turner tossed an 8-yard TD pass to freshman Connor Cella to effectively put the game out of reach.
Turner was named the game's MVP, throwing a pair of touchdowns in his only two attempts while also rushing for a season-high 49 yards.
Michael Kutzler led the defense with seven tackles.
The Owls (10-3) piled up 487 yards on offense while holding a Thundering Herd attack that had averaged over 500 in a five-game winning streak to just 371 yards.