|The 2006 season (back to home page....)
Rice 31, SMU 27
Owls upend Ponies,
secure bowl berth
with fantastic finish
Owl chorus line queues up to run down SMU quarterback Willis (Mark
By Bob Reinhold
HOUSTON (Nov. 25) Win one for the Gipper? No. Win seven for
Dale Lloyd? Absolutely.
Senior slotback Mike Falco virtually guaranteed victory, a la Joe Namath, earlier this
week -- and he and his teammates came through. It ain't braggin' if you can do it (Mark
The Rice Owls pledged their season to Lloyd's memory after Dale's
tragic passing, and made good on their promise with a come- from-behind, heart- stopping
31-27 victory Saturday, a win that propelled the Owls into a bowl game for the first time
since 1961, while frustrating SMUs efforts to get to one themselves.
This Senior Day victory was the sixth consecutive win for Rice after a virtual
Bataan Death March early-season schedule, and the untimely loss of one of the Owl
Jarett Dillard once again proved why he is a Biletnikoff Award finalist, as he hauled
in six passes for 145 yards and three TDs, all of the spectacular variety. But none shall
be destined to rank so spetacularly among Rice football lore as the 25-yarder he brought
in for the winning touchdown with 4:05 left to play.
It was another one of those command performances, apparently. That is, Jarett
commanded Joel Armstrong to throw him the ball, Joel delivered it, and JD made his usual,
leaping, impossible catch to provide the margin of victory.
"I just feel it in my soul," the San Antonio sophomore said of his
insistence that the ball be hoisted his way. "It's something you just feel to do.
When the games on the line, I'll take the blame if we miss it. Just throw it up
there, and let's go get it."
Rice 18, East Carolina 17
Frosh kicker nails last-second field goal
to cap stunning, improbable Rice victory
Fourth-quarter comeback keeps Owls on road to bowl
|Was it, or wasn't it?
Sure, ECU defender Pierre Parker has ball at the end of
the play, but was Rice's Jarett Dillard in possession of the football when his knee
touched the end zone turf? (PTH photo)
HOUSTON (Nov. 19) -- When Clark Fangmeier trotted out onto the Rice
Stadium turf with the Owls down to East Carolina, 17-15, with seven ticks left on the
scoreboard clock Saturday, it turns out he was probably the least nervous person in the
And why not, when he'd picked up good vibes resulting from the support of his
coaches and teammates. Rice receiving ace Jarett Dillard said he was fully confident that
the offense had set the table quite nicely in moving the ball as far as the ECU 23 yard
line and setting it up in the middle of the field for the Owls' youthful kicker.
"We definitely were in field goal range," JD said. "And wed all
seen Clark knock down field goals in practice. So I felt perfectly calm after we went
Jarett Dillard skies high to haul in Chase Clement for Owls' first TD of the game.
This touchdown catch marked the 13th straight game in which the Rice receiving phenom has
hauled in a scoring catch (PTH photo)
It was a matter of putting faith in ones players, Rice head coach
Todd Graham said afterwards. "There's no question but that you've got to trust the
kids," he said. "And I told Fangmeier right there at the end, I said 'there is
no doubt.' He asked, 'Are you going with me?' And I said, 'No doubt.' We put that kind of
belief and faith in them. Anyway, Clark is going to make -- inside that 45-yard range,
he's going to 10 out of 11 field goals. He's that accurate."
Despite being iced by two timeouts called by ECU head coach Skip Holtz, the the
freshman walkon 2006 graduate of Northland Christian School in suburban north Houston,
gave a youthful grin and said he'd welcomed the opportunity.
"I was hoping I'd get that chance to make the kick for the win," he
insisted. "Coach Graham and Coach Beaty have done a good job conditioning me for a
quick move -- they call it a 'NASCAR run' onto the field. They're good at putting
in pressure situations at practice. So I was prepared."
Yeah, but he had to wait out there in front of all 12,669 attendees at Rice
Stadium and God and everybody, with several minutes to mull over the enormity of his task.
What went through his mind?
"To be honest, I couldn't tell you what I was thinking about. It was one of
those, 'just make the play, and then think about it afterwards. Keep my head down, and let
the audience tell me if it went through.'"
They told him, alright.
The Homecoming crowd, which made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in numbers, let
forth with a mighty roar as Clark Fangmeier's effort rode high and true through the
uprights. An interminable three seconds on the clock later, after ECU had gone through a
Chinese fire drill of sorts on the ensuing kickoff, the game was over, and the Owls had
won their fifth contest in a row, rendering them bowl eligible for the first time since
2001 -- and this time in a conference where it means something.
In so doing, the Owls defied defeat when victory repeatedly seemed to have
eluded their grasps.
Rice 41, Tulsa 38 (2OT)
Jubilant Owls hoot it up in locker room after Rice's
stirring double overtime victory over Tulsa
(PTH photo) If your web browser did not auto-play
audio clip, click here to help
out of the following story lead-in...
Cardiac Owls re- fuse to lose;
nip Tulsa in double overtime
Joel Armstrong skies high to haul in pass from Chase Clement (PTH photo)
TULSA (Nov. 12) It almost did take 'til judgment day.
Staring down defeat in double overtime, the Rice Owls pulled a rabbit out
of a hat in the person of none other than Jarett Dillard, the Owls' vaunted receiver and
occasional team magician, who lept and twisted in bringing down Chase Clement's 25-yard
touchdown pass, to rock and sock the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 41-38, as the sky darkened
over the Tall Grass Prairie.
It was a lusciously sweet ending to Rice head coach Todd Graham's homecoming to
face a team he had coached for three years, helping elevate them from bargain-basement
level to Conference USA and Liberty Bowl championships before taking his act to South
But whichever team wound up on the short end of this one would have been completely
justified in what-iffing the ways this game should have been won, but was lost.
Fortunately for Rice fans, it was the home contingent that would up walking away from
Skelly Stadium muttering to themselves. And mutter they did.
Tulsa roared out of the blocks with a long, initial touchdown drive and appeared
to be well in control of the game, early. But the aggressive Rice defense started playing
takeaway, elevating the Owls to a two-touchdown halftime lead, a mere step or two from
being in a position to put the game in the bag.
In the third quarter, the Rice offense was prevented from taking that single
step by a skilled and aroused Tulsa defensive unit, but the Owl defense, though outmanned,
was able to hold its ground. But not forever, as in the fourth quarter, the Hurricane
mounted two consecutive touchdown drives to take control of the game.
But the Owls took back the momentum, and the lead.
And then they lost it again, and the game went to overtime.
Rice seemingly had the game won in the first overtime period, but let Tulsa
literally sneak back in to a tie to send the game to a second. Finally in the second
overtime period, the Rice defense stood up, holding Tulsa to a 39-yard field goal. The
Rice offense, in return, played for the all the marbles, and indeed turned out winning
How the Owls got from that initial seven-point deficit to victory in sudden
death is a long story. We'll try and hit a few of the high spots. That being insufficient
fully to convey the heights and depths of emotions wrought by this game, we're constrained
to say: you just should've been there.
Bailiff era begins next Monday
as Owls report for spring drills
Interview, part 1: Coach Bailiff on spring drills....
Interview, part 2: The Rice coach answers some pending questions... Interview,
part 3: "We're going to have a blue-collar work ethic out there..."
Rice AD Chris Del Conte's introduction of Coach Bailiff....
Coach Bailiff's opening
remarks at press conference.... Media Q&A session with Coach Bailiff, press conference....