Cougars Edged By Rice In Opener, 10-7

    Kevin Kolb threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Marshall in the fourth quarter.
    Kevin Kolb threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Marshall in the fourth quarter.
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    Sept. 5, 2004

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    AP Sports Writer

    HOUSTON - Ed Bailey scored on a 2-yard run and Rice came within nine seconds of notching its first shutout in nine years with a 10-7 victory over Houston on Sunday.

    Rice won the traditional season opener against its cross-town rivals for the first time since 2001, grinding out a victory in the lowest-scoring game in the 30-year history of the "Bayou Bucket" series.

    Houston rushed for only eight yards and nearly half of their 212 total yards came on a 99-yard scoring drive in the final minutes of the game. Kevin Kolb threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Marshall with nine seconds left, helping the Cougars avert their first shutout since a 48-0 loss at Texas in 2000.

    Rice didn't fare much better, finishing with only 13 first downs and 186 yards of offense. Quarterback Greg Henderson led the Owls with 74 yards rushing and Bailey added 57.

    Bailey's touchdown capped a nine-play, 67-yard drive midway through the second quarter, giving the Owls an early 7-0 lead.

    The Owls then relied on a dominant defensive effort to win their fourth-straight game dating back to last year, quite a turnaround from their humiliating 48-14 loss to Houston in the 2003 season opener.

    Houston had one of the nation's best offenses last season under first-year coach Art Briles and freshman quarterback Kevin Kolb, a former pupil of Briles' at Stephenville High School. Briles' confounding schemes - mostly concocted during his days at the West Texas prep powerhouse - led the Cougars to their first bowl game in seven years.

    The Cougars ranked 12th nationally in overall offense and 16th in scoring in 2003, but bore no resemblance to that potent against the Owls.

    Kolb, the nation's top freshman passer last season, went 15-of-33 for 204 yards with an interception and the touchdown to Marshall. He was under pressure all night, however, often struggling just to set his feet to throw.



    The loss to the Owls doesn't bode well for Houston, especially since it comes the week before a game at No. 2 Oklahoma. It'll be one of four games in 19 days for the Cougars.

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