Rice Ends Bowl Win Drought With 38-14 Victory Over Western Michigan
Rice fan’s 54-year wait for a bowl win came to an end Tuesday night at Reliant Stadium as the Owls dominated the Western Michigan Broncos in the third annual Texas Bowl.
The Owls topped Western Michigan by a score of 38-14, giving Rice its first win in a post-season bowl since 1954.
The victory also gave Rice a 10-win season, a record achieved only once before in school history. The only other time a Rice football team topped nine wins was in 1949.
The Owls drew first blood just under the five-minute mark in the first quarter when quarterback Chase Clement ran the ball in on a 26-yard rush.
With 22 seconds left in the quarter, place kicker Clark Fangmeier tacked on another three points with a 30-yard field goal.
A strong Rice defense held the Broncos scoreless through the first half while the offense continued to add to the Owls’ lead. With just under seven minutes left in the first half, Toren Dixon pulled in a six-yard Clement pass for another TD.
Then, with 1:15 left in the half, Clement connected with James Casey on a 45-yard bomb for another score, giving the Owls a 24-0 halftime lead.
The third quarter found the Rice offense adding to the lead while the Owl defense continued to keep the Broncos out of the end zone.
At the 6:35 mark, Clement handed off to wide receiver Jarrett Dillard, who then passed the ball back to Clement in the end zone for a 13-yard score. Following Fangmeier’s point-after, Rice led the game 31-0.
The toss was only Dillard’s second career pass attempt, and first career touchdown pass.
The Broncos showed life late in the game, but it proved too little and too late to put Western Michigan back into the contest.
After a pass interference call against the Owls put Western Michigan on the three-yard line with a first down, Bronco quarterback Troy Hiller hit running back Kirk Ellsworth in the end zone to put WMU on the scoreboard for the first time in the game.
Then, with less than a minute left, Hiller connected with wide receiver Schneider Julien on a 13-yarder.
Rice quarterback Chase Clement was 30-of-44 on his way to being named the game’s most valuable player. Clement’s 44 passes and 30 completions were both Texas Bowl records. Histhree touchdown passes also ranked first in Texas Bowl history.
On its way to the win, Rice re-wrote much of the Texas Bowl record book.
Rice rushed for 135 yards, good for second-most in Texas Bowl history. Also, the Owls posted 320 passing yards in the game, also good for second-most in Texas Bowl history.
Rice’s 38 points gave them the most points scored in Texas Bowl history and tied for second among Houston bowl games. The Owls also ended with 28 first downs in the game, ranking first in Texas Bowl history and second among Houston bowl games.
Owls WR Jarett Dillard and WR James Casey each ended the game tied for second in Texas Bowl history with eight receptions.
Rice’s 24-point margin of victory was second-most in Texas Bowl history, and the team’s 455 net yards were second-most in Texas Bowl history. As a team, Rice had 31 receptions in the game, which was the most in Texas Bowl history.
Rice also had 320 receiving yards, ranking second in Texas Bowl history.
Western Michigan set the Texas Bowl record with six kickoff returns, and tied for the second-most sacks with three.
The game was the second longest in Texas Bowl history at 3 hours, 26 minutes. With Reliant Stadium’s roof open and the temperature at kickoff at 62 degrees, it marked the coldest game in Texas Bowl history.
The paid attendance was 58,880, the fourth-largest in Houston bowl game history, and the second-largest in Texas Bowl history.
Just before kickoff, Western Michigan announced that it had agreed to a new five-year contract with head coach Bill Cubit. Cubit was 29-19 at WMU going into the Texas Bowl.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Cubit will receive a base salary of $225,000, with a guaranteed salary package worth $375,000.