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September 23, 2012

No Stopping the Herd - Owls Fall in 2OT

Can't say that I've been to a more disappointing Owl game than the one I saw yesterday.

With a seemingly insurmountable 10 point deficit to overcome, Rice QB Taylor McHargue almost single-handedly led the Owls on a furious rally that had them set up at the Marshall 2 yard line with less than a minute in regulation - and with 4 chances to win the game. They failed to grasp that opportunity, walking away with only a tie as the clock ticked down to zero in regulation play.

That failure to seize victory would cost them as, like they had done practically all day, they failed to stop the Marshall running game.

It was the legs of Marshall's Running Backs - not the right arm of QB Rakeem Cato - that would seal victory for The Herd. They didn't attempt a single pass in 2 overtimes as they snatched victory from the Owls with a 54-51 crushing defeat in the second overtime.

"Thundering" Herd indeed.

With the loss Rice falls to 1-3 on the season.


Game Notes

- Taylor McHargue finished yesterday's game with over 400 yards of total offense passing for 314 yards, completing 21-of-36 attempts and connecting for 3 touchdowns. He did the most damage with his feet, including the 47 yard run that set the Owls up at the 2 yard line. He finished with 153 yards on 17 carries. His final play was also on that 47 yard run - while diving for the goal line McHargue injured his shoulder and missed the rest of the game. Quite costly.

- Owl super-athlete Sam McGuffie finally got a chance to show his immense talents yesterday. McGuffie caught touchdown passes of 31 and 50 yards in the 3rd quarter. On both his elite speed allowed him to run away from Marshall defenders. He finished the day with 4 catches for 109 yards.

- Fellow WR Donte Moore accounted for a couple miscues by hauling in a beautiful over the shoulder catch at the goal line from McHargue, netting him a 43 yard touchdown catch. Moore worked hard on adjusting to the ball on deep throws in the spring and summer.

- While he's established himself as a big time Wide Receiver (he led Owl WR's with 7 cathes for 79 yards yesterday), sophomore Jordan Taylor missed an opportunity to argue that he still has "QB" skills. On a trick play in the 1st quarter he missed a wide-open Luke Willson down the middle of the field. I intentionally didn't use the word "streaking" for Willson - he's had a banged up ankle that's slowed him considerably, and that "may" have impacted the timing of the play - an overthrow by Taylor.

- Freshman Running Back Luke Turner made a name for himself yesterday on kickoff returns. The first year player from Gilmer had 5 returns for 128 yards, including a nifty return up the near sideline that went for 40 yards.

- Freshman Derek Brown also saw action yesterday at DE after starting the year as a WR. Though he's still learning the position at the college level after making the position switch just last week, Brown's athleticism was obvious on several plays. He was credited with 1 tackle in limited time but knocked Marshall QB Rakeem Cato down a handful of times after he threw the ball.

- Defensive Tackles Hosam Shahin and Christian Covington both had their best games as Owls Saturday. They had nearly identical stat lines - each with 7 tackles, and a forced fumble. Shahin had 1.5 sacks while Covington had 1.

- The "helmet rule" (stupid!) is one that may have cost Rice the game yesterday. On 1st and goal from the Marshall 2, Turner Petersen was stopped for a short gain. On the play a Marshall defender shoved his hand under Center Nate Richards' face mask, forcing his helmet off (no call or determination that a defensive player caused this, which allows player to remain in the game). As a result, Richards was forced to leave the game for one play by ruling on the field. Backup Center Matt Simonette was forced into action on the next play, which resulted in a false start by the Owls and pushed them back to the 6 yard line - instead of second and goal from the 1.


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