The nation’s longest road losing streak continued today as the Rice Owls rallied to beat the University of Hawaii football team 28-14 in a nonconference game at Rice Stadium.
Several blown opportunities led to the Warriors dropping their 15th straight from the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium, allowing the Owls to go to 2-3 for the season. Hawaii fell to 1-4 and will open Mountain West Conference play vs. Wyoming next Saturday night.
With the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, Rice took over at its own 21 and quickly went 79 yards for the go-ahead score. The big play was a 50-yard completion from Rice quarterback Driphu Jackson to Mario Hull that set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Darik Dilliard as the PAT by James Farrimond was true to give Rice a 21-14 lead with 4:18 left.
Jackson punctuated the win with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor with 12 seconds left as Farrimond added the PAT to make it 28-14.
Much like the first half, the UH defense provided the offense an excellent chance to put points on the board early in the third after forcing a Rice fumble that was recovered at the Owls 36 by Moses Samia. It was Rice’s first play of the second half after the Owls defense got the UH offense off the field on a three-and-out.
But unlike the first half where twice Hawaii wasted turnover opportunities, this time the Warriors converted on a 24-yard touchdown pass from UH quarterback Ikaika Woolsey to Scott Harding as Tyler Hadden added the PAT to make it 14-7 UH with 9:24 left in the third.
Later in the third, the Rice defense came up with a big play of its own after the offense sputtered through the early part of the second half. On a second-down play, Woolsey was sacked by Rice’s Connor Johnson and lost the ball to the Owls’ Brad Luvender at the UH 31.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at the UH 22, the Owls called timeout to ponder the situation with 4:51 left in the third. The UH defense forced Jackson into an incompletion as cornerback Dee Maggitt was defending on the play to keep the seven-point advantage in place.
The UH offense remained on the field for only three plays, forcing a tired defense to return too soon. This time, the Owls marched steadily down the field from its own 39 to the UH 33 on only four snaps from center.
From there, Jackson hit Taylor on a 28-yard completion and Dillard took over, scoring from the 2 as Farrimond hit the PAT to tie the score at 14 with 19 seconds left in the third.
After missing an excellent scoring opportunity early in the first quarter, Hawaii converted a seven-play, 68-yard drive into points as Woolsey found Harding on the receiving end of a 20-yard touchdown pass. Hadden added the PAT with 4:35 left in the first to make it 7-0 UH.
Hawaii’s Benetton Fonua forced a fumble on a punt return earlier in the opening period that was recovered by Michael Martin, but head coach Norm Chow opted to skip a 33-yard field-goal attempt by Harding in favor of a fourth-down pass play by Woolsey at the Rice 15 that failed.
The Warriors had another good drive end on an interception of a Woolsey pass, but the UH defense came up big again, forcing the Owls to punt.
The UH offense remained inconsistent into the second period, but the defense was anything but. Fonua gave the Warriors the ball at the Rice 31 after he picked off Jackson at the 50 and took it back 19 yards setting up a missed 38-yard field-goal attempt by Harding that went wide left.
Rice made Hawaii pay for another blown chance as Jackson completed an 81-yard touchdown pass to James Mayden as the PAT by Farrimond sailed through to even the score at 7 with 4:41 left in the half.
It looked like Rice might add a go-ahead field goal at the half but a 9-yard sack of Jackson by Fonua on third down ended that opportunity for the Owls.