The Houston Cougars were trailing four minutes into game and rebounded with 24 points to down the Rice Owls by the score of 31-26 to retain possession of the Bayou Bucket on Saturday, Sept, 21, 2013 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
Rice jumped out to an early lead on a Luke Turner pass to Turne Petersen to take the score 6-0 at the 12:34 mark.
The Cougars responded two-minutes later when sophomore Ryan Jackson capped off a 75 yard drive with a one-yard run to make the score 7-6.
Rice followed up at the 6:51 mark with Charles Ross scoring on a one-yard run to take the score to 13-7 in favor of Rice.
The Cougars then rattled off 24 unanswered points to make the score 31-13 seven second into the fourth quarter.
It seemed to many fans in Reliant Stadium that the Cougars were on the way to an easy victory when Rice mounted a comeback with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game.
The Owls scored a touchdown off a nine play, 65 yard drive that lasted four minutes, cutting the Houston lead to 31-20.
A blocked Houston punt at their own 38 yard line led to a Taylor McHargue touchdown to further cut the Houston lead to six.
Rice recovered the on-side kick at the 2:19 mark in the fourth quarter but was unable to capitalize.
Ward, on the other hand, achieved his offensive punch on the ground, keeping the ball nine times for 80 yards, while completing three passes for 48 yards.
Ryan Jackson carried the ball 19 times for 88 yards and one touchdown.
In the air, Doentay Greenberry caught six passes for 146 yards and one touchdown while Daniel Spencer and Jackson both caught four passes for 76 and 57 yards, respectively and one touchdown each.
Houston head coach Tony Levine stated he was very pleased with his two freshmen quarterbacks (O’Korn and Ward) when interviewed by members of the media in the post-game press conference;
Greg Ward got his first game action and rushed the ball nine times for 80 yards. I’m really proud of him, and he and John O’Korn are both in the same mold of they seem older in terms of the way they carry themselves. I was proud of John as he made a couple of freshman mistakes, but is still learning. He’s getting better, and he’s a competitor. He took some pretty big hits out there, and got back in the game and threw three touchdown passes.
Greenberry was asked in the press conference how he felt about being the main option as a receiver for the quarterbacks;
We had two true freshmen who were able to get in today, and they both did an excellent job. It’s just going out there and making plays for the quarterbacks. You just have to go out there and execute and trust that your quarterback will get it there.
With the win, the Cougars raise their season record to 3-0 as they prepare to hit the road next Saturday to face Texas-San Antonio at the Alamodome in San Antonio with a 3:00 p.m. CT kickoff.