Cougar Football Tripped Up at Rice 56-42

    The Cougars will now await their post season fate as they are bowl eligible for a fourth-straight season.
    The Cougars will now await their post season fate as they are bowl eligible for a fourth-straight season.
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    Nov. 29, 2008

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    HOUSTON - Despite another 300-yard-plus passing effort by quarterback Case Keenum--his school-record 13th in a row with a career-high 494 passing yards--the Houston Cougars could not match the point-for-point scoring of their arch-rival Rice University, as the Bayou Bucket returned to South Main Street by virtue of a 56-42 win by the Owls. The UH loss snapped a three-game winning streak in 2008 and a three-game winning streak against Rice.

    With the loss the Cougars drop to 7-5 on the season and 6-2 in West Division of Conference USA, finishing in second place behind Rice and Tulsa. The Owls end the regular season at 9-3 and 7-1 in league action.

    Both Houston and Rice await their bowl assignments. For the Cougars the trip to the post-season marks the fourth straight year Houston will play in a bowl.

    The Owls took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field, moving 72 yards on nine plays with Casey capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Fangmeier tacked on the extra point to give Rice a 7-0 lead.

    Houston countered with a scoring drive of its own, when Keenum hit L.J. Castile on a crossing route and Castile sprinted down the sidelines, picked up a key block from Kierrie Johnson and scored from 43 yards out. The quick score covered 73 yards on just five plays.

    On the drive Keenum set a new Football Bowl Subdivision record when he completed his 25th consecutive pass dating back to last week's game against UTEP. The previous record was held by Tennessee's Tee Martin in 1997.

    The back-and-forth battled continued, when the Owls moved 70 yards in nine plays to hit paydirt and reclaim the lead. After passing Rice down the field, Clement decided to keep the ball on an option, scooting in from eight yards out to push the Owl lead to 14-7.

    The Cougars briefly knotted up the score, when Bryce Beall bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out on fourth-and-goal, but on the ensuing Owl drive, Rice reclaimed the lead when Clement hit a wide open Taylor Wardlow for a 53-yard touchdown.

    Rice extended its lead to 28-14 after converting a Keenum interception into points. The Owls moved the 11 yards in just three plays, when Clement hit Casey on a 2-yard pass in the back of the end zone.

    After Jordan Mannisto missed a 41-yard field goal attempt, the Owls charged right down the field to score again before halftime. It was the Clement-to-Casey connection that was the winning combination again, hooking up from 23 yards out as Casey spun out of two tackles inside the five to score his third TD of the game.

    Keenum rallied the Cougars down the field right before halftime to slice into the Rice lead. After Beall rushed three straight times to net 30 yards, Keenum scrambled out of pressure and found Kierrie Johnson cutting to the front pylon for a three-yard touchdown. Johnson finished with a career-high 142 yards and one touchdown on six receptions.

    It was the 40th touchdown pass of the season for Keenum, as the sophomore from Abilene, Texas, joins David Klingler (54 in 1990) and Andre Ware (46 in 1989) as the only Cougar quarterbacks to throw for over 40 touchdowns in a regular season.

    The third quarter was more of the same, with the two teams scoring at will against the other's defense. After Clement hit Case from nine yards out, the Cougars roared back to another touchdown, this time Keenum connected with Castile again from 22-yards away. The Owls came right back with another touchdown, when Clement again went to the air, finding Toren Dixon at the 10 but Stephen James missed the tackle and Dixon walked into the end zone for a 49-28 lead.

    Houston had a chance to slice into the lead after Keenum hit Johnson for 43 yards to the Rice nine-yard line. After two UH rushes to the four-yard line Keenum had back-to-back incompletions to thwart the UH scoring threat.

    Rice increased its lead to 56-28 before Houston attempted one of its patented rallies. With 12:09 left to play Keenum hooked up with Tyron Carrier from 34 yards, and then with under three minutes in the game Keenum connected with Castile for the third time, this from 17 yards away. In between those scoring drives the Cougars had reached the Owl 10-yard line on a 26-yard pass to Carrier, but on a hit from Travis Bradshaw, Carrier fumbled away a potential scoring chance.



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