Longhorns start season with 34-17 victory over Rice
Sept. 4, 2010
HOUSTON -- Starting a season on the road for the first time since 1995, No. 5/4 Texas registered a 34-17 win over Rice at Reliant Stadium. With the victory, the Longhorns won their 11th straight season opener and improved to 12-1 in season openers under Mack Brown.
After falling behind 3-0, Texas rattled off 24 consecutive points in the the second quarter to take a three touchdown lead. Rice scored a TD late in the first half when a deflected pass fell into the hands of an Owls' receiver who scurried into the end zone with 0:04 on the clock.
Leading 24-10 at the half, the Longhorns' defense set the tone, dominating the third quarter. In that quarter, Texas held Rice to zero yards and one first down on 11 plays, and extended its lead to 31-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
UT capped a 10-play 72-yard drive with a 26-yard Justin Tucker field goal to extend the lead to 34-10 in the fourth quarter before a muffed punt in the final minute of the game setup a short Owls touchdown drive.
The Longhorns' offense, which scored on four of its five trips (three TDs) inside the red zone, approached the 200-yard plateau on the ground, rushing for 197 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries. It was UT's most rushing attempts since their 2009 season opener against ULM, when the Horns rushed 49 times. Tre' Newton led the ground game with 18 rushes for 61 yards and three TDs. It marked Newton's first game with multiple rushing TDs. Cody Johnson added 59 yards on 15 carries while Fozzy Whittaker logged 51 rushing yards on nine carries, marking the first time since 2005 that UT has had three rushers with at least 50 yards in a game.
In his first career start, Garrett Gilbert completed 14-of-23 (60.9%) pass attempts for 172 yards. Three of his tosses went for at least 22 yards and although he didn't throw a touchdown, he had two pass plays that went to the two-yard-line or closer. Case McCoy made his first career appearance on UT's final drive of the game.
Malcolm Williams was the Horns' leading receiver with four catches for 77 yards, including a 47-yard catch. John Chiles' 31-yard catch late in the second quarter put the Horns on the one-yard line and set up the touchdown that gave Texas a 24-3 lead. Marquise Goodwin grabbed four receptions for 50 yards, including a 16-yard catch and run that took the ball to the two-yard-line and resulted in a short touchdown drive. That score put the Horns up 31-10 late in the third quarter.
The Texas defense held Rice to 219 yards of total offense with 47 yards coming on the aforementioned deflected pass for a touchdown. Seven of Rice's 13 drives went for seven yards or less, including four possessions that resulted in negative yardage. The Horns bottled up the Owls' ground game, holding Rice to 88 yards on 42 carries (2.1 ypc).
Keenan Robinson played a part in both of Rice's turnovers. He registered his first career interception on the Owls' second drive to set up a field goal and scored a touchdown when he scooped up a fumble caused by Sam Acho and ran 10 yards to the end zone in the second quarter. Robinson added six tackles, including one tackle for loss.
Texas recorded three sacks with Acho, Eddie Jones and Jackson Jeffcoat registering one apiece. Jones logged a team-high three TFLs and Kheeston Randall added two TFLs. Kenny Vaccaro led the squad with eight tackles (seven solo), including one TFL. Blake Gideon and Emmanuel Acho tallied six tackles each.
Justin Tucker started his career as a placekicker by making a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter, the third-longest kick by a UT player to start a career. The Longhorns' kickoff return unit gave the offense strong starting position throughout the game with an average return out to the Texas 42-yard line, compared to the 25-yard line on kickoff returns for Rice.