Oct. 8, 2015
HOUSTON - The University of Houston Football team dominated the rushing game Thursday night and improved to 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play with a 49-28 victory over SMU. With the victory, the Cougars improved to 5-0 overall in head coach Tom Herman's first season.
All seven of Houston's touchdowns were rushing touchdowns on Thursday night, with four coming from quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and three coming from running back Kenneth Farrow. Ward and Farrow are the first Houston duo since 2010 to each rush for at least three scores.
Overall, Ward once again was masterful in his control of the Houston offense. The junior was 16-for-18 passing, for 243 yards, and her rushed the ball 14 times for a team-high 82 yards.
Demarcus Ayers caught a Houston-best seven receptions for 91 yards, while Chance Allen caught three passes for 47 yards. On the ground, Ryan Jackson rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries and Farrow accounted for 40 rushing yards on 11 rushes.
The Houston defense steadily improved as the night went on, allowing just seven points after halftime. The Cougars forced three SMU turnovers overall and held the Mustangs (1-5, 0-2 American) to just 89 offensive yards after halftime.
Overall, Houston outgained the Mustangs, 457-399. The Cougars scored touchdowns on all seven of their red zone trips and posted 23 first downs.
Matt Davis led SMU offensively, competing 21-of-35 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Xavier Jones ran for a team-high 52 yards on 10 carries, while Courtland Sutton caught six passes for 48 yards and a score.
SMU received the opening kickoff and put point on the board the first time they possessed the ball. A 10-play, 82-yard drive ended with Davis hitting Sutton on an 8-yard touchdown pass. The extra point gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.
Houston wasted no time issuing a response. The Cougars sliced through the SMU defense in just four plays before scoring a touchdown, with Ward running the ball in from 10 yards out. The score tied the game at 7-all.
The Mustangs scored another touchdown on their next drive. This time it was a 9-play drive, with Davis tossing a 9-yard scoring pass to Ryheem Malone. The Mustangs took a 14-7 lead.
After both teams traded punts, Houston tied the game just two plays into the second quarter. Farrow rumbled to the end zone from two yards out, capping a 7-play, 80-yard drive and making the score 14-all.
Midway through the second quarter, SMU retook the lead. This time, Davis called his own number, carrying the ball across the goal line from one yard out. The 8-play, 70-yard touchdown drive made the score 21-14.
The final two scoring drives of the opening half belong to the Cougars, who claimed their first lead with just :02 left before halftime. The tying score came thanks in large part to an SMU fumble that was forced by Taylor and recovered by Adrian McDonald on the SMU 12-yard line. Two plays later, Farrow plunged in from two yards out to tie the game at 21-all.
Just before halftime, Houston again turned the Mustangs over and capitalized with a score. This time it was Lee Hightower who knocked the ball loose and Jerard Carter who scooped it up at the Houston 43. The Cougars took over with just :44 seconds left, but they found the promised land, with Ward toting the ball in from two yards out on the final play from scrimmage of the half. Houston went into the locker room up, 28-21.
The touchdown was another milestone for Ward. It was his ninth rushing score of the season, tying the UH record for rushing touchdowns in a season, set by Case Keenum in 2007.
Houston led at the half despite being outgained in the opening 30 minutes, 310-226. But three SMU turnovers to Houston's none was the key stat of the half. Ward led UH with 27 rushing yards in the half while also going 9-for-11 passing for 149. Ayers caught five passes in the opening half for 69 yards.
Ward broke Keenum's record on Houston's second drive of the third quarter. The junior ran for a touchdown from 10 yards out to boost Houston's lead to 35-21. The touchdown was Ward's third of the night and his 10th of the season.
The Cougars scored their fourth consecutive unanswered touchdown late in the third quarter. Farrow carried the ball on five of the drive's eight plays, and he found the end zone for the third time on the final snap, a 1-yard score to make the score 42-21.
Farrow's touchdown was an historic score in its own right. With Ward also scoring three touchdowns on the night, the score marked the first time since Sept. 10, 2010 that two Cougars scored three rushing touchdowns each. Bryce Beall and Michael Haynes combined to achieve the feat in a 54-24 win over UTEP.
Ward made more history on Houston's next scoring drive. The junior signal caller ran for his fourth touchdown of the night, setting a personal high and giving the Cougars a 49-21 lead. With the score, Ward became the sixth player in UH history to rush for four touchdowns in a game.
As a team, Ward's touchdown gave the Cougars seven rushing scores on the night. That's a first for a Houston team since Nov. 24, 2007, a 59-6 drubbing of Texas Southern.
SMU got back on the board with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Davis scrambled away from pressure and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Darius Joseph, making the score 49-28.
Houston is back on the road Friday, Oct. 16, when they head to New Orleans for an American Athletic Conference battle against Tulane. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (CDT), with live television coverage available on ESPNU, and fans can listen on KPRC 950 AM.
Houston returns to TDECU Stadium Saturday, Oct. 31 to face Vanderbilt. Kickoff time will be announced at a later date.
2015 HOUSTON FOOTBALL SEASON TICKETS
With Tom Herman leading Houston in 2015, purchase your 2015 Houston Football season tickets now for as low as $99 and secure your seat in TDECU Stadium at UHCougars.com/2015. Save money and guarantee your place for a slate of six remaining home games including SEC opponent Vanderbilt. Join Coach Herman this season and next season when Houston plays host to Oklahoma and Louisville.
2015 HOUSTON FOOTBALL GROUP TICKETS
Single-game group ticket sales for the 2015 Houston Football season are now on sale via Houston Athletics Fan Experience Headquarters. Groups of at least 10 or more can purchase tickets starting at just $17 per person to any of Houston's four remaining home games by calling or texting Fan Experience Headquarters at 713-GO-COOGS or by clicking here.
2015 HOUSTON FOOTBALL SINGLE-GAME TICKETS
Single-game tickets for the 2015 Houston Football season are now on sale via the Houston Athletics Fan Experience Headquarters. Single-game tickets to Houston's four remaining home games start at just $20 and are available by calling the Fan Experience Headquarters at 713-462-6647 or by clicking here.