With Houston stitched to both the front and back of their jerseys in tribute to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, the Cougars put on quite a showing for the storm-weary city in their home opener Saturday against crosstown rival Rice, routing the Owls, 38-3.
After breaking onto the scoreboard, 7-0, with an eight-play, 62-yard drive capped by running back Duke Catalon bulldozing his way into the end zone on a 10-yard screen pass from quarterback Kyle Allen, the Cougars began to break the game wide open thanks to a pair of Rice turnovers.
The Owls held Houston to just a field goal after linebacker Matthew Adams recovered a fumble by running back Samuel Stewart at the Rice 11-yard line, but could not stop the Cougars from finding pay dirt after an interception by defensive lineman Payton Turner on the very next Rice possession gave Houston the ball back at the Owls’ 9-yard line.
The Cougars fed the ball to running back Dillon Birden three straight times, and he bullied his way into the end zone from 1 yard out on the third carry for a 17-0 lead.
Houston’s onslaught continued in the second quarter, as the Cougars got touchdowns from Catalon on a 1-yard run, from receiver John Leday on a 7-yard reception from Allen and from Mulbah Car on a 3-yard run to take a 38-0 lead into the halftime break.
The Leday receiving TD was set up by a phenomenal play by Cougars star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who forced a fumble after chasing down Rice’s Sam Glaesmann from the other side of the field during a QB scramble.
Rice tacked on a 31-yard field goal with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter for its only score of the game.
Allen had a stellar day passing, completing 31 of his 33 attempts for 309 yards and two TDs in just two-and-a-half quarters of play. Linell Bonner was the favorite target in the passing game, hauling in 10 receptions for 132 yards.
Oliver finished with six solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. Adams led the Cougars in total tackles with 11, and had a fumble recovery. Rice linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee had a game-high 15 total tackles.
Houston remains at home for a game against Texas Tech at 11 a.m. next Saturday. Rice will look to rebound in its next game, which will be 6:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Florida International.
COUNTY ALUMNI ROUNDUP
Dickinson alum Jordan Myers, a redshirt freshman, started at tight end for Rice. He had two receptions for 30 yards, and was targeted three other times, with two of the passes off-target and the other broken up on a nice play from the Houston defense.
La Marque’s Aymiel Fleming, a sophomore, saw significant playing time at defensive tackle (especially in the second half) in relief of Oliver.
Houston linebackers Jordan Milburn (a sophomore Ball High alum) and Cameron Doubenmier (a senior Clear Springs alum) were both special teams mainstays for the Cougars.
A WHOLLY DOMINANT HALF
The Cougars put this game well out of reach in the first two quarters, and the one-sidedness of the numbers in Houston’s 38-0 first-half shutout of Rice were pretty staggering.
Houston outgunned Rice, 314-70, in total yards of offense. The Cougars had 15 first downs, compared to just three for the Owls, and were 7-for-9 on third down conversions, compared to just 2-for-8 for Rice.