Rice upends rival Houston in 2OT to win Bayou Bucket

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Field Level Media
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Sep 2, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars defensive back Malik Fleming (15) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the UTSA Roadrunners at TDECU Stadium.
Sep 2, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars defensive back Malik Fleming (15) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the UTSA Roadrunners at TDECU Stadium.
Image: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Daelen Alexander had both touchdowns in overtime, including the deciding 1-yard run and 2-point conversion, as Rice upset crosstown rival Houston 43-41 on Saturday at Rice Stadium to capture the Bayou Bucket for the first time since 2010.

Donovan Smith hit Matthew Golden with a 2-yard touchdown pass in the Cougars' possession in the first overtime. Rice responded with a 3-yard run by Alexander to send the game to a second extra period.

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Alexander then ran for a 1-yard touchdown and added the winning 2-point conversion to force Houston to match Rice's production. Smith scored on a 2-yard run but couldn't connect with Golden on the conversion pass.

JT Daniels passed for 401 yards and three TDs for the Owls (1-1). Smith countered with 260 yards and two scores passing and three TDs on the ground.

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The first half belonged to the Owls, who scored the game's first 28 points and led 28-7 at the half.

But Houston responded, racking up three touchdowns over the final 14-plus minutes and tying the game on a 1-yard plunge by Smith with 15 seconds to play in regulation.

The Owls opened the game with a bang, scoring on Daniels' 10-yard scoring pass to Luke McCaffrey at the 10:11 mark of the first quarter.

Rice then took advantage of an interception of Smith at the UH 39 to push its lead to 14-0 when Alexander crashed in from the 1 on fourth down with 4:15 to play in the first period.

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Rice's rousing start continued with a 32-yard Daniels-to-McCaffrey TD pass with 3 minutes to play in the opening quarter that staked its advantage to 21-0.

The Owls added to their lead on Daniels' third TD pass of the first half, this one from 15 yards to Braylen Walker at the 8:32 mark of the second at the end of a 92-yard, 11-play march.

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The Cougars finally found the end zone on a 10-yard pass from Smith to Golden with 2:42 to play until halftime.

Houston cut its deficit to 28-14 on Smith's 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Stacy Sneed scored on a 14-yard run with 3:46 to play before Smith completed the stirring comeback with his second 1-yard TD run with 15 seconds remaining.

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Houston was a 7.5-point favorite.

—Field Level Media