Rice - Purdue week
Rice 24, Purdue 22
Redshirt freshman DE Zach Patt puts pressure on Purdue QB
Caleb TerBush in Saturday's action (PTH photo)
Two evenly-matched teams duke it out, as
highlights, mistakes on both sides boil down to last second kick -- blocked by Owls to win
HOUSTON (Sept. 11) -- To everyone in the stands at Rice Stadium Saturday
-- and we do mean everyone -- it appeared the Rice Owls' goose was cooked.
Down 24-22 as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Purdue Boilermakers were
lining up for what appeared to be a chip shot field goal, something their All-American
placekicker, Carson Wiggs, could nail in his sleep.
"I'm sure everyone in the stadium thought it was over," Owl linebacker Justin
Allen said afterwards. But he and his teammates had something else in mind. First, they
exorted the crowd in the home west stands but their flapping arms appeared to raise barely
a murmur. Face it, this game was over, although it frankly never should have come to that
Rice had executed two textbook touchdown drives to sandwich the halftime break, moved
the ball late, overcome horrible field position throughout the game, and kept the
Boilermakers out of the end zone the entire second half.
But they also missed a sure pick-six, fumbled away a third-and-one deep in Purdue
territory, and executed a tepid set of called plays late in the game which appeared
designed much more to try to avoid losing than to wrest this game away from their
In their final possession, which began with 3:45 remaining, the Owls first jumped
offsides; next plunged into the middle of the line two times, netting nothing. Then on
third and 15, they ran the option to the outside, where a late, dangerous pitch netted but
a two-yard loss.
Kyle Martens' ensuing punt was his least impressive on an otherwise stellar day in
which he averaged over 50 yards a try, traveling but 39 yards and setting up the now
pumped-up Indiana contingent almost at midfield.
Two straight Purdue counter plays yielded up big yardage and the Boilers suddenly were
in the red zone, with a minute remaining and the Indianans sure-footed kicker calmly
taking practice swipes on the sideline.
But the Owl defense stiffened, and Rice coaches wisely used their remaining timeouts in
an effort to stem the apparent inevitability of the Boilermakers would-be winning
It stood third and 11 for Purdue at the Rice 15 when the Owls called their last time
out with 31 seconds remaining. The time out, it seemed, could have played into the hands
to the Purdue strategy, for it could have given them time to run out the field goal crew,
take windage and elevation, have a cigarette, tell a few stories, and then go out and win
Yet despite the kicker Witts sterling accuracy record, Boiler coaches decided one
more play was necessary to center the ball in the middle of the field to give their guy an
even easier aim at the target.
Akeem Shavers picked up but a yard in squaring the ball precisely between the hash
marks. As the clock ticked down, 25 seconds, 20, the Purdue field goal unit ran onto the
field and calmly took their positions. There was no indication of panic, no sense of
excessive haste, and adequate time remained on the clock to get an unhurried kick in
other words, no excuses.
Rice senior linebacker Justin Allen immediately noticed something, however, as the
Purdue line took its down positions. "They didn't get proper splits," Justin
said. "When I saw that, it was just like a light went off in my head."
"I saw that 'A' gap in front of me a little more open than I thought it would be,
and I took full advantage and got skinny. We're always taught three steps and get your
The snap was true, the placement was clean, and the kick was headed squarely on target
with the proper elevation.
But Justin had knifed his way through the aforementioned gap, squared up, leapt, and
caught the ball on his forearm, with room to spare.
The pigskin caromed harmlessly away, and after a split-second of stunned silence,
the Owl players on the field, and on the bench, not to mention the student section and
lower west side deck, all erupted in pandemonium.
Questions remained: why did it have to
boil down to that?
Sam McGuffie tramples one Purdue defender while he
attempts to shake off another (PTH photo)
A stirring victory for the Owls it was, and indeed a break
of a ten-year-long losing skein against automatic-qualifier BCS teams. But inevitably the
nagging questions remain, as to why it became necessary that the Owls so dramatically had
to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The game throughout reflected a hard-fought contest by two evenly-matched teams,
as each side traded scores in the first half, Rice getting a field goal to open scoring at
the 5:46 point of the opening quarter.
The 33-yard Chris Boswell effort capped a 13-play, 71-yard drive that was kept alive by
a 13-yard Sam McGuffie run and a 22-yard key first down reception by Luke Willson.
But the Boilermakers stiffened once the Owls reached the red zone, and so, while taking
the lead, the Owls had to do so while still failing to push across their first TD of the
Purdue roared back to take a 7-3 lead, gong 80 yards mainly on the strength of a
43-yard scamper by RB Akeem Shavers, and a 24-yard first down strike from QB Caleb TerBush
to Antavius Edison.
Like a boxer trading punches, the Owls came right back, moving 78 yards in 10 plays to
wrest back a 10-7 lead. Most of the damage was done through the air, including a 30-yard
beauty from TMac to Turner Peterson coming out of the backfield.
Purdue scratched out two more scores to take a 17-10 lead late in the first half,
however., picking up a 3 and a 7 abetted by good field position each time; the Boilers had
to travel only 46 and 54 yards to tally those points.
But taking possession with only 1:48 left in the half, the Owls were able to milk the
clock sufficiently in order to complete a 59-yard scoring drive to knot the count at 17 on
the last play of the first half.
The drive was kept alive via a 25-yard crossing route to Charles Ross that set up the
Flock at the Purdue 28. But the Owls were flagged for holding and had to go 20 yards for
their next first down. On second and 15, TMac pinpointed a pass into the arms of Donte
Moore in double coverage.
One play later, the Owls were forced to burn their last timeout of the half, facing
fourth and one at the 14, with only 28 ticks left on the clock.
Tmac dived for the first down, and then spiked the ball on the next play to buy some
time. He next scrambled for seven more to the Purdue ten, and then hit Luke Willson for
six yards to the four and a first and goal. Then, another spike
So with six seconds to go, the Owls had another shot. Eschewing the sure field goal,
TMac dropped back and threaded down the middle a laser beam to Luke Willson camped one
yard deep in the end zone. Luke cradled the ball, but as he fell toward the end zone turf,
the pigskin evaded his grasp and popped up in the air.
Never mind what goes up, must come down, and this time the ball settled right
back down in Lukes hands, and the Owls had themselves a 17-17 tie going into the
halftime locker room.
The clock management on that drive was by far the most expert heck, call it
brilliant as has ever been exhibited by a David Bailiff-coached Rice squad. And as
it turned out, the Owls needed every one of those seven points.
Owls took second half kickoff and made hay
Tyler Smith evades his tackler and struggles for extra
yardage (MA photo)
Rice took the second half kickoff and cranked right up
again. As the Owls moved 80 yards in 10 plays, running backs Tyler Smith, Sam McGuffie and
Charles Ross each got carries. And Taylor Cook picked up a key first down with a 12-yard
reception on the wheel route.
With a first and ten at the Purdue 19, then, Taylor McHargue found Sam McGuffie all
alone in the end zone, and zipped the ball right over, to give the Owls a 24-17 lead.
"That first drive marching down the field was huge," a grinning TMac said
afterwards. "Coming out of the second half we did a great job of setting the tempo.
When we moved the ball today it was because of the tempo. We'd hurry-up and try to get
them on their heels. As long as we were moving, as long as the tempo was up, they were on
their heels.. The offensive line did a great job all day."
The remainder of the second half was a tour de force by the Rice defense. During
that time, the Boilermaker offense was only one for eight on third-down conversions. The
Purdue offense was able to rack up but one second-half field goal despite starting drives
at midfield and at its 44-, 43-, 38- and 48-yard lines.
Again, the Rice linebacking corps was stellar, as, in addition to the game winning
block, senior LB Justin Allen combined with Cam Nwosu to total 19 tackles on the day.
Not to be outdone, both DL Scott Solomon and safety Paul Porras picked up eight
takedowns apiece. The Owls, in all, recorded four sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss on the
day, usually in key, if not do-or-die, situations.
"The defense gave up a field goal in the second half and there was a safety. That
was it.," Coach Bailiff pointed out. "That says volumes about how hard our
defensive coaches worked this week to get the scheme we had and how hard the players
played. They are a solid football team."
Second half defense rose to occasion time
and time again
Charles Ross makes catch while Purdue defender gets set
to challenge (MA photo)
Twice after the Owls had taken the lead, the Rice defense
stiffened after allowing Purdue initial yardage. The first time resulted in a 39-yard
short punt to the Rice one yard line after Scott Solomon sacked quarterback Caleb TerBush
for an 8-yard loss to edge Purdue out of field-goal range.
"Very seldom do you not take the points, but I felt that our team needed the
momentum," Purdue coach Danny Hope said, attempting to justify the decision to eschew
the long field goal attempt.
Sure enough, the Purdue defense held, and the Owls once again had to punt out beneath
the shadow of their own goal posts.
This time, Purdue moved the ball to the lip of the cup, but in a dramatic flourish, the
Owls held at the cusp of the goal line, a fourth-down Purdue rushing attempt coming up
short by inches, as running back Akeem Shavers was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Rice 2
by linebacker Cameron Nwosu and safety Tanner Leland.
Once again backed up to their own goal, the Institute Boys, however, gave up their
first allowed safety in many a moon as Purdues Joe Holland and Kawann Short teamed
to drop Charles Ross in his own end zone.
The Owl defense did not get discouraged, however, and subsequently stopped the
Boilermakers at midfield.
Moments, later, the Owls appeared to be driving for a game clinching drive as they
faced third and one at the Purdue 26. The call, however, appeared to be a play-action
pass, and as TMmc completed the play fake and pivoted, he ran right into Purdues
Robert Maci, whod penetrated the Owl backfield unmolested.
The resulting fumble killed the Rice drive, and gave new life to the Boilermakers.
Indeed, it was the first and only turnover of the game the Owls still have not
garnered a single fumble recovery or pass interception on the season and it
appeared as if it could be a game-changer.
"They did a good job getting up field and they got in my face on my
turnover," TMac admitted. "I should have taken the sack and secured the
Purdue did perk right up and move the football. On second and one from the Rice 41,
TerBush hit his speedster wideout O. J. Ross on the slant. Ross had plenty of room to roam
and looked as if he might be able to thread his way down the sideline all the way to the
end zone, but he stepped out of bounds at the Rice 13. "My shoe came off my foot and
I just lost my balance," he later explained.
Thats when the Owl defense rose up, however, as Jared Williams first nailed
Purdues Ralph Bolden for a short gain. Then Scott Solomon got the drop on the Purdue
quarterback Caleb TerBush for a sack of minus-one yard. Next play, receivers covered and
under a heavy rush, TerBush scrambled for a yard or two and the Boilermakers had to settle
for a field goal, bringing the score to its final margin, at 24-22, and setting up the
aforementioned end-of-game Rice heroics.
"It was a hard-fought football game," Coach Bailiff noted afterwards. "
If we continue to eliminate mistakes and play hard, we'll continue to prove we're a pretty
good football team.
"Winning in college football, that's hard to do. Your margin of error on offense,
defense and special teams is so slim. We made some errors today and we're still getting
out of here with a win."--P.T.H.
Rice home opener on tap
Owls, Boilermakers both in dire need of non-league win
HOUSTON (Sept. 8) Lets not belabor the point, but just a whole
heck of a lot is riding upon the outcome of the Rice Owls Saturday home opener
against the Purdue Boilermakers.
What with Rices being the only Division 1 team in the land to have scheduled
all of its non-conference games against BCS automatic-qualifier schools and
opponents Baylor, Northwestern and this weeks foe not exactly slated to experience
off-years this season at least one win against the non-league AQs would appear to
be imperative, in order for the Owls to have a realistic chance to get to a bowl game in
Prognosticators say the Owls best opportunity for that win is coming up at 2:30
this Saturday afternoon, as the Flock tees up against the Boilermakers under glaringly
clear skies and the thermometer expected to read in the upper 90s.
After losing its last six games of the 2010 campaign, Purdue opened at home with
a narrow, 27-24, escape over Sun Belt entrant Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders
arent exactly chopped liver, though, having been to bowl games in the past two
in 10; New Orleans Bowl in 09 with a 10-3 season record and a league
With the rugged Big Ten league schedule facing them, a 2-0 start would go a long
way to propel the Boilermakers toward collecting enough scalps to earn a bowl berth
The last time Purdue played the Owls, in like manner they escaped with an
early-season 21-19 win. That was back in 1998, and, coincidentally, the game marked the
coming out-party for a fellow who probably owns the most storied name in Purdue football
history, at least in recent years.
That was Drew Brees, late of West Lake Hills, Texas, who came in to toss two TD
passes to lead the Boilermakers to a come-from-behind victory.
This year, the quarterback situation for Purdue appears to be more comparable to
that experienced by the Owls, post-Chase Clement.
Robert Marve was Purdues starting quarterback going into last season, but
early on suffered a torn ACL and was out for the year. Hes said to be back and ready
to go against the Owls Saturday, but Purdue head coach Danny Hope says his starter this
week will be last weeks starter, junior Caleb TerBush. And then theres
talented sophomore Sean Robinson also waiting in the wings.
"We'll make a decision, as the week goes on, who the No. 2 quarterback will
be," Coach Hope said at his Monday press conference. "Right now there's no
question who the No. 1 is; it's Caleb TerBush."
Coach Hope insisted there is no quarterback controversy in West Lafayette, not,
anyway with TerBushs performance last week, when he tossed for 219 yards and two
touchdowns against Middle Tennessee State, including a game-winning 35-yard strike to
Junior WR Antavian Edison.
The Boilermakers finished with 420 yards of offense against the visiting Blue
Raiders, including 201 on the ground. Their offensive output included a 98-yard scoring
drive in the second quarter, in addition to Edisons last minute score. Justin Siller
led the Boilermakers in receiving with five catches for 55 yards.
The Boilermakers have a potent place kicking attack in Carson Wiggs, who scored
the Boilermakers' first points of the 2011 season, hitting a 50-yard field goal in the
first quarter and adding a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter against MTSU.
Defensive stars for PU against Middle Tennessee included senior LB Joe Holland,
who collected a career-high 14 tackles, including eight solo takedowns, junior LB Dwayne
Beckford, who grabbed his first career interception for the first takeaway of the 2011
season, and soph corner Ricardo Allen, who blocked his first career field goal to seal the
If you run both teams stats through the computer, the result shows two
evenly-matched opponents. In fact, the Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Boilermakers as
all of a one-pint favorite over the Owls Saturday.
"I think we will have an opportunity to win this football game," Rice
head coach David Bailiff said Monday. "We are a mature football team. We are a
talented football team. We have to put it all together. You look at Purdue's roster. There
are a lot of juniors and seniors on that football team also. They came back late in that
game to beat Middle Tennessee at home. That is a proud program. We are going to have to
give it our absolute best."
One things for sure its going to take a bit of a better
performance by the Owls undisputed first-string signal caller in order for the Rice
offense to be able to produce enough to come out with a win.
Against the Longhorns last week, Rice QB Taylor McHargue was only 14-for-29
passing for 79 yards, although he avoided both sacks and interceptions. It appeared at
times he rushed the pass or failed to pick up secondary receivers when in fact a host of
bad-breathed UT defensive linemen were not necessarily breathing down his neck. Of course
there were 100,000 orange-clad fans in the stands screaming at him at the tops of their
lungs, but never mind that.
Coach Bailiff was quick to come to TMacs defense after the Texas game.
"That was only his fifth college start," the Rice head man pointed out. "We
tried to give him a game plan for success. At times he exceeded expectations and at times
he pressed. There were some moments in there where he looked like Taylor from last year
and there were some passes that got away from him where he wasn't fundamentally getting
his feet set. I know he is disappointed in the performance. He expects more out of himself
and so do we."
This week at home, hell face a much more sympathetic setting in the
friendly confines of Historic Rice Stadium. Too, its not out of line to expect that
hell get more backup from his usual supporting cast.
Last week, Owl superback Sam McGuffie, hobbled with a knee brace, was in for
only two plays, but Coach Bailiff said hell be 100 per cent and ready to go at
length against the Boilermakers.
Similarly, Rice wildcat-back Jeremy Eddington was a non-factor against the
Longhorns, whereas he ran like a man possessed in his last two outings in Rice Stadium,
both November wins for last seasons Owl team.
Owl fans may remember the turnaround Joe Tiller made at Purdue after moving over
from a successful run at Wyoming. No small part of Coach Tillers success lay in his
ability to recruit well in the state of Texas. Similarly, Coach Hope says hes
excited to return to Texas where the pickins are rich and, naturally, theres a big
Purdue alumni base in Houston, to boot..
"When we had Drew Brees on the team we got a lot of publicity in the state
of Texas and we did very well recruiting Texas," Coach Hope noted. "We went back
to Texas this last spring and rallied up a lot of Purdue football advocates in Dallas.
We're glad to be playing there (in Houston)."
Rice Coach Bailiff was upbeat about the Owls prospects in Saturdays
home opener in no small part because he knows that Texas game could have ended up
quite differently, had the Owls not committed a plethora of first-game errors.
"We are a good football team. We are looking forward to eliminating the
mistakes we made this week," he said. "You know, that is the key ... improving
each week. There is no doubt with this football team, we will get over here today and make
improvements. We are looking forward to playing Purdue Saturday.
"Gallery Furniture and Rice have teamed up and are letting the first
responders in the game for free. I think that is great for Mattress Mac (Jim McIngvale) to
support the veterans and the policemen and the firemen the way he does. What an amazing
man. I'm glad he has chosen Rice to team up with."
Lagniappe: The John Churchill Chase cartoon up at the top
and on the front page comes from the football program for the Rice-Purdue football game
held at Rice Stadium Oct. 4, 1958. Apparently Purdue came in as a major national
power that year, and the Owls lost to the Boilermakers, 14-0, before a crowd of some
60,000.00. Nineteen fifty-eight was the year of highest attendance ever for Rice
football, it having attained per game average attendance of just over 58,000 -- among the
top six in the nation. How times have changed.
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