Two touchdowns after an hour and a half weather delay helped Rice University take a 27-26 victory over the Florida Atlantic University football team Saturday in Conference USA play.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointing, heart breaking loss,” FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge said. “There were times there again where it looks like we have the ability to be a good football team. Give all the credit in the world to Rice and Coach Bailiff and their kids, they made plays at the end of the game and made calls that put them in the position to get a win.”
Rice (3-3, 2-1 C-USA) struck on the first possession of the game as quarterback Driphu Jackson hit Zach Wright for a 32-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 4:09, 75-yard drive.
FAU (1-4, 1-1 C-USA) responded on a 75-yard drive over the next 4:50, culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jaquez Johnson to Kalib Woods to even the score.
As the first quarter drew to a close, Jackson found receiver Connor Cella on a five-yard TD toss to put the Rice Owls back up by seven, at 14-7.
Following a Rice punt that pinned FAU back inside its own five-yard line, Johnson connected with Kamrin Solomon (pictured) for the longest play from scrimmage in program history, a 94-yard touchdown pass to knot the contest at 14.
Rice drove into FAU territory on its final possession of the first half before FAU’s Herb Miller broke up a pass in the end zone to hold Rice at the 17-yard line. A missed field goal kept the game in a stalemate as the teams went to intermission.
On the opening drive of the second half, Johnson guided FAU into the Rice red zone as Greg Joseph capped off the possession with a 27-yard field goal to give FAU its first lead of the day.
Rice blocked an FAU punt on its next possession to take over at the FAU 16, but FAU’s defense held strong. Sophomore Jerrad Ward earned a sack on second down, followed by a third-down sack by Trey Hendrickson and Trevon Coley to force another field goal attempt. After the second Rice missed field goal of the game by Rice, FAU drove 76 yards for another Joseph field goal to increase FAU’s lead to 20-14.
Hendrickson came up with another sack on Rice’s next drive and forced a fumble which was recovered by Coley to give FAU the ball on the Rice 27-yard line at the end of a third quarter. A quarter that saw FAU defense hold Rice to just eight offensive yards.
Freshman Trey Rodriguez, in his first collegiate game, carried the ball in from nine yards out on the next FAU drive to inflate FAU’s lead to 26-14.
After an hour-and-a-half weather delay, FAU’s two-point conversion attempt failed.
Coley was credited with a quarterback hurry to force Rice to turn the ball over on downs on the next drive before FAU was held to its first three-and-out with just 8:02 to play.
A 60-yard pass followed by a 21-yard touchdown rush by Jackson gave Rice its first second-half points, slicing the FAU advantage to 26-21 with 7:21 to play.
Rice held FAU to one first down on the next possession to get the ball back with 4:51 to play. Jackson marched his squad 83 yards over nine plays and 2:44 and threw a 14-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Darik Dillard for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Rice also failed on a two-point conversion, but FAU was unable to find the end zone on its final possession.
“Our offense did everything they could to get down the field and get a game winning field goal, but at the end of the day Rice made a sack on fourth down that ended the game,” Partridge said. “We called a couple timeouts that was about a four second differential for us to get a chance to get a punt return or desperation punt block.”
FAU remains at home to host Marshall on Saturday, Oct. 17 at noon. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports and broadcast on 106.3 ESPN West Palm.
- Brandon Goodwin, fausports.com