Big plays by the Tulane Offense almost flooded Rice's slim bowl hopes Saturday. But Tight End Taylor Cook recovered a Tulane on-sides kick to help the Owls hold off the surging Green Wave, and escape with a 49-47 C-USA road victory.
In the first half the Owls looked like they'd run away with the game, posting a 28-7 lead at one point, nearly extending that to 35-7 before fumbling on the Tulane 2 yard line. That fumble seemed to wake Tulane up - as momentum shifted, their Offense kicked into high gear behind Quarterback Ryan Griffin in what would be a record setting performance in defeat.
Griffin threw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns in the second half, rallying Tulane to a 38-35 at the end of the 3rd quarter after trailing 28-10 at the half.
The game was full of big plays by both teams. Gabe Baker returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown - but Tulane's Ryan Travis also returned a tipped Taylor McHargue pass 73 yards for a score.
In the end, Rice made just enough plays to pull it out though. None was bigger than Owl CB Phillip Gaines' pass break-up of a 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game.
With the victory the Owls keep on a path that must see them win out to qualify for bowl eligibility.
- Rice allowed Tulane ZERO yards rushing; unfortunately they allowed 476 yards passing. That yardage total by Ryan Griffin set a school record.
- Phillip Gaines is tied for 2nd nationally in pass break-ups. By rule, his PBU of the Tulane 2-pt conversion did not count as an official defended pass (un-timed play).
- Freshman Running Back Luke Turner scored his first touchdown as an Owl early in the 4th quarter. He added another later in what turned out to be the game winner.
- The Owls were plagued by penalties against Tulane, they were flagged 9 times for 100 yards. They were costly: Julius White had an interception nullified by a roughing the passer penalty; Charles Ross had a 36 yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty; Taylor McHargue also had a 36 yard touchdown called back for holding; clinging to an 8 point lead the Owls appeared to have held Tulane on a 4th and 9 play - but Gabe Baker was flagged for pass interference to extend the drive.
- An Achilles heel for them all year, Rice was also victimized by big plays. In the 3rd quarter Tulane scored on three drives of only 4, 4, and 5 plays.
- Defensive End Cody Bauer intercepted a Ryan Griffin pass on the first play of the 3rd quarter. In a nifty move he batted the ball up then deftly came down with the pick.
- Rice Defensive Tackle Hosam Shahin posted a huge sack in the 4th quarter. The play stalled a Green Wave drive, forcing a field goal. He also had 2 quarterback "hurries". Shahin leads the team with 5 sacks. He also leads all Owl DL with 39 tackles.
- Rice turned the ball over twice - each of which had touchdown consequences. Fortunately, Tulane turned the ball over 5 times.