HOUSTON - Ryan Jackson rushed 10 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns and Daniel Spencer added three more scores as the University of Houston football team opened the 2013 campaign with a convincing 62-13 victory over Southern on Friday night at Reliant Stadium.
The Cougars rolled up 672 total yards of offense, including 372 on the ground, while forcing four turnovers and allowing the fewest points since Nov. 19, 2011.
Junior signal caller David Piland, who started the contest, was 15-of-23 for 148 yards and a touchdown while freshman quarterback John O'Korn completed 11 of 15 passes for 107 yards and three scores.
Houston set the tone from the onset, forcing a Southern three-and-out on its first drive before marching 59 yards on six plays, capped by an eight-yard touchdown scamper from Jackson.
Following senior punter/place kicker Richie Leone's first two-career field goals, Jackson struck again with a 15-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars up 20-6 with 6:11 remaining in the first half.
The Cougars quickly struck again before the half following a fumble in Southern territory as Piland found Deontay Greenberry, who powered his way into the end zone for the 10-yard strike.
The second half belonged to Spencer, who put Houston back on the board within the first 39 seconds as he took his first-career rush 45 yards for the touchdown.
Spencer scored the next two touchdowns for the Cougars on 9- and 11-yard passes from O'Korn as Houston raced out to a 48-13 advantage.
Houston would add two more scores in the fourth quarter as sophomore running back Justin Hicks (1-yard rush) and freshman receiver John Leday (9-yard reception) posted their first-career touchdowns.
Senior defensive back Zach McMillian and junior linebacker Derrick Mathews paced a balanced defensive attack with nine tackles apiece, while senior linebacker George Bamfo added a career-best eight stops.
The Cougar defense forced four turnovers, including sophomore defensive tackle Tomme Mark's first-career interception, to go with four pass deflections.
Houston officially opens play in the American Athletic Conference at Temple on Sept. 7 at 11 a.m., in Philadelphia, Pa.