Oct. 25, 2008
NEW ORLEANS--Despite a strong second half, Tulane couldn't overcome a poor start in a 42-17 loss to Rice Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome. Redshirt freshman QB Joe Kemp completed 14 of 20 attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs and all in the second half, but the Green Wave couldn't overcome a 35-0 halftime deficit.
Rice quarterback Chase Clement racked up 168 yards through the air, on 20-of-25 with two touchdowns, and added 57 yards rushing and two scores on eight carries. Rice's C.J. Ugokwe carried the ball 18 times for 118 yards, his first career 100-yard rushing game, with one touchdown. Rice improves to 5-3 overall, and 4-1 in Conference USA, while Tulane falls to 2-5, 1-3 in C-USA.
The Owls jumped all over Tulane early, scoring on four of their first five possessions, while its defense held Tulane to just three yards in the first quarter, and 161 in the first half.
Kemp guided the Green Wave to a 17-7 advantage in the second half. Wide receiver Brian King grabbed seven balls for a career-high 103 yards. Casey Robottom added three catches for 66 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown. Nathan Austin added five grabs for 73 yards and led Tulane on the ground with 25 yards on 13 carries. Junior Andre Anderson had four first quarter carries for 12 yards but did not return to play the second half.
On the opening drive, Tulane's Devin Holland intercepted Clement, returning it 10 yards to the Rice 43-yard line. But the Owls forced a Green Wave punt. Rice then drove 95 yards on 16 plays, taking 8:48 off the clock before Clement found James Casey for a seven-yard TD strike.
Rice controlled the ball for 12:45 of the first quarter, out-gaining Tulane 184 yards to three as they led 21-0 after the first period.
Tulane picked up a first down on an 11-yard completion from Moore to Alan Mitchell. But then Moore threw an interception on the next play as Tulane attempted a flea-flicker pass. The Wave had an apparent sack on Clement, but Tulane was called for a facemask penalty when Clements helmet popped off on the tackle. The seven-yard loss turned into a 15-yard gain for the Owls, and after a 21-yard run by C.J. Ugokwe, Clement ran the ball in from six yards out to cap the drive.
The Green Wave moved the ball 26 yards on eight plays before punting, and the Owls punted the ball back from midfield. On fourth and one from their own 11-yard line, Tulane's Logan Kelley took a direct snap in punt formation, and surged ahead three yards on the fake punt for a Tulane first down on his first career rush. Nathan Austin took a screen pass 49 yards down to the Rice 20. But on the very next play, Robert Calhoun intercepted Moore at the 17-yard line.
After a Rice punt, Tulane moved the ball to the 23-yard line with two seconds left in the half, but Scott Solomon blocked the field goal attempt and Rice's Chris Jones scooped it up and took it 55 yards to the house for a 35-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Kemp took over for Tulane and completed two of his first three attempts, moving the Green Wave down into Rice territory, setting up a 42-yard field goal by Ross Thevenot.
Kemp moved Tulane downfield after a Rice punt, hooking up with Robottom for a 42-yard touchdown. It was the longest completion and first touchdown of Kemp's career, and tied Robottom's career-long reception.
The Owls answered back as Casey ran for 47 yards on a third-and-one keeper, and Ugokwe punched it in from eight yards out.
Tulane drove 53 yards, highlighted by Kemp's 24-yard pass to Brian King down to the Rice six-yard line. But the Owls stopped Tulane at the one, taking over on downs with 11:11 to go in the game. After forcing Rice to go three-and-out, Kemp hit Albert Williams for an 18-yard touchdown pass off a screen. Williams' first career TD made it 42-17 with 6:45 to go.
The Green Wave defense held Rice again, and the Green Wave played its second-team in their remaining possession, a four-play, six-yard drive. Tulane's defensive backups then played the final 3:18.
Casey recorded 51 yards receiving on six catches with a pair of touchdowns for Rice, while he added 45 yards on two carries on the ground. Rice out-gained Tulane 230-to-34 on the ground, and converted five-of-10 on third down. Tulane turned the ball over three times, in addition to the blocked field goal.
Tulane will take on No. 11 LSU next Saturday at 7 p.m. in Baton Rouge.