2014 Rice Owls Hawaii Bowl Champions
OWLha! Rice Defeats Fresno State in Hawain Bowl 30-6
Rice junior quarterback Driphus Jackson set a school bowl record by throwing for 318 yards and tied a second with three touchdown passes, while a rejuvenated Owls defense held Fresno State out of the end zone to lead them to a 30-6 win in the 13th Hawai’i Bowl at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium on Christmas Eve.
“Driphus (Jackson) did an incredible job not only managing the game but at times taking it over,” Rice head coach David Bailiff said. “We made some big plays when we needed to and ran the ball late in the game.At times we played smothering defense and gang tackled. That was a good football team we played and we held them for most of the game.”The victory marked a redemptive rebound for the Owls, who surrendered 76 points in their regular season finale at Louisiana Tech in late November and also guaranteed Conference USA a winning record in bowl season. Conference teams have posted a 3-1 mark with Tech set to face Illinois on Friday.”That (the loss to Louisiana Tech) just wasn’t the way we wanted to go out,” senior safety Julius White said. “We didn’t play like ourselves then but we came out today with a chip on our shoulder and played like we had something to prove.””Coming into the game we knew that they were going to be really aggressive on defense and I knew that was something I had to take advantage of,” said Jackson, who became the first Rice quarterback to lead his team to two bowl victories. “They do a lot of rotating in their coverages so I had to be really on point in reading that. But I give our receivers a lot of credit for adjusting to the balls.”
Jackson and the Owls started quickly, marching down the field for an opening field goal, but then saw Fresno State answer with a field goal of its own thanks to a pair of penalties by the defense.
But he had a quick answer for the Bulldogs hopes, combining on a 53-yard pass play to Dennis Parks which set up a 14-yard touchdown toss to Jordan Taylor. Rice got the ball right back on the Bulldogs first play after the score as J.T. Blasingame picked up his first career interception and Jackson wasted no time, hitting Mario Hull on a 69-yard scoring play which was the longest touchdown pass in Rice Bowl history. The 16-point first quarter was the most productive opening bowl quarter in school history and the most points in any bowl game quarter since the Owls scored 21 in the second quarter of their first-ever bowl appearance, the 1938 Cotton Bowl. Fresno State tallied a second field goal in the second quarter to cut the margin to 16-6 at halftime and after the teams traded punts to open the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ Marteze Waller broke off a 41-yard gain to the Rice 24 to put them on the doorstep of more points. But the drive stalled and on fourth down Brian Nordstrom broke through to block the field goal attempt.
Nordstrom and the rest of the Rice defense consistently rose to meet each challenge fashioned by Fresno State, thanks in large part to 12 tackles for loss and a stout effort on fourth down as the Owls stopped the Bulldogs four times on fourth down to run their season total to 15 stops in 20 chances (25%).
Nordstrom’s blocked field goal seemed to inspire the Rice offense, which had lost its momentum after the momentous opening effort.
Jackson was 4-4 on the drive which ended when he hit Parks up the sideline and the junior from San Antonio applied a stiff arm on his final pursuer to free him on a 40-yard touchdown and push him over 100 yards receiving for the first time in his career. His 109 yards on the day marked just the third time in school history a receiver has topped 100 yards in a bowl game (Jordan Taylor, 153 vs. Air Force; James Casey, 112 vs. Western Michigan).Darik Dillard set up his own one-yard TD run in the fourth quarter after taking a screen pass from Jackson and rambling 58 yards to the Fresno State one. The TD was Dillards 11th on the ground this season and was his 16th career touchdown.
The bowl victory was head coach David Bailiff’s third in four tries with Rice, matching Jess Neely for the most career bowl victories by an Owls head coach, and was the eighth of the year. This is the ninth time in school history the Owls have won eight or more games in a season and they have now won the most games in two (18) and three (25) seasons in school history.
Jackson finished the day completing 15-of-24 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns to be named Rice’s team MVP.
Quick News & Notes:
13 Owls Honored by C-USA Coaches
Junior defensive end Brian Nordstrom, who leads Conference USA in tackles for loss leads a group of 13 Rice Owls who were honored by league coaches on the 2014 All C-USA Football Team which was announced on Tuesday.
Nordstrom was named to the first team, while senior , Nico Carlson, Bryce Callahan and Jordan Taylor were named to the second team. In addition, nine players received honorable mention recognition: Jowan Davis, Ian Gray, Mario Hull, Alex Lyons, Zach Patt, James Radcliffe, Andrew Reue, Matt Simonette and Julius White.
Defensive end Graysen Schantz was honored by league coaches as a member of the 2014 C-USA All Freshman team.
In his first year as a starter, Nordstrom became a dominant force, compiling 18.5 tackles for loss heading into the Hawai’i Bowl. His total is tied for seventh nationally and ranks second in school history while his 7.5 sacks are fifth-best in C-USA and tied for sixth at Rice. He was named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America second team and was named to the 2014 Ted Hendricks Award Watch List which is created at midseason and based on current season performance.
Carlson put together his most consistent performance in his third year as a starter at guard for the Owls. He has made 37 career starts.
Callahan has been credited with a career-high 38 tackles this year and is tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups. He tied his career-high with three tackles for loss and picked off the 12th pass of his career to take over sole possession of fourth on the Owls career list.
Taylor stormed to the top of the conference receiving lists after missing most of the first four games of the season. In his final eight games, he caught 48 passes for 780 yards and six touchdowns and his average of 86.8 yards per game leads the league. He has a career-high four games with better than 100 yards receiving this year, and tied the school record with an 88-yard touchdown reception against North Texas.
Schantz stepped into the starting role opposite Nordstrom when senior Zach Patt was sidelined and he responded with 21 tackles, including seven for loss, three of them sacks. He picked up two of his three sacks in the Owls 28-14 win over Hawai’i
Owls Place Three on C-USA Football Academic Squad
Rice Football led the way with three honorees on the 15-man 2014 C-USA All-Academic Football Team which was announced by the conference office on Thursday.
Rice juniors James Farrimond and Brian Nordstrom and graduate student James Hairston were selected in voting conducted by the league’s sports information directors. The three selections were the most for the Owls since they placed three in both 2009 and 2010.
Farrimond, who has handled the Owls punting chores for the past two years and is ranked fifth in C-USA this year with a 42. 2 average carries a 3.64 GPA with a double major in Economics and Sport Management. He also took over as the Owls placekicker during the middle portion of the 2014 season, converting 8/11 field goals and converting all 25 PATs. He ranks second on the team in scoring with 49 points.
Nordstrom, who was named a member of the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I football team earlier on Thursday, carries a 3.63 GPA in Civil Engineering. He leads the Owls and is tied for 10th nationally with 18.5 tackles for loss, which ranks second in school history behind Brandon Green (21 in 2001). He has 7.5 sacks this season, which matches the sixth-best total in school history.
He has 43 tackles this year, with nearly half of them resulting in yardage lost. His top individual game came in a 17-7 Homecoming win over UTSA when he was credited with a career-high six tackles, including 2.5 sacks and forced fumble.
Hairston, who is pursuing a Masters in Statistics after transferring to Rice from LSU this summer, has posted a 4.0 GPA in his coursework. He has handled kickoff chores all season for the Owls in addition to converting 4/8 field goals and all 19 PATs.
Nordstrom Named Academic All-American
The Rice Owls Are the Best Football Team in Houston
Sunshine Kids Fundraiser – “Score For More”
Rice Student / Athletes Driphus Jackson, Connor Cella, Dani Spriggs (Soccer) are leading the efforts for “Score For More”
A fundraiser to help benefit The Sunshine Kids and their annual holiday party.
100% of the proceeds will go primarily toward the gift shop that is set up each year for the kids.
The goal is to donate a ($1) dollar per touchdown scored by the Rice University Football Team, but any donation is appreciated.
As of 10/23/2014 the Rice Owls now have 23 touchdowns on the season
For more information contact: Driphus Jackson – Dj4@rice.edu
RICE STRONG T-SHIRTS FOR SALE
Rice Strong T-shirts will be for sale home tailgates for $20. Sizes small -3XL -men’s and women’s cuts.
For other styles and sizes, they can still order from Bamboa Sports. Contact Brent Marquardt directly at brent@Bamboa.net or 405-573-3256 for special orders and reduced prices.