HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Boswell kicked a 56-yard, go-ahead field goal with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and Charles Ross added an 8-yard touchdown run as Rice beat Kansas, 23-14 Saturday night.
The win evened up Rice’s mark at 1-1, and the loss did the same for Kansas (1-1).
Quarterback Taylor McHargue completed 14 of 31 pass attempts for 168 yards and Ross carried the ball a career-high 27 times for 157 yards, to lead the Owls offense. But when McHargue began to show signs of fatigue early in the fourth quarter, coach David Bailiff decided to go to backup quarterback Driphus Jackson.
The sophomore out of Cedar Hill, Texas, led Rice down the field for their only offensive touchdown of the contest, giving them a nine-point cushion.
“I’m really proud of this football team. This was a game we wouldn’t have won two years ago,” said Bailiff. “It’s hard to win college football games period, so to win at home against a Big 12 opponent is pretty special.”
Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps was limited to 157 yards passing on 28 attempts, and he tossed a pair of costly interceptions. The first was returned for a touchdown while the second occurred deep in Owls territory.
The Owls opened the scoring when linebacker Michael Kutzler intercepted a Heaps pass attempt and returned it 52 yards to the end zone. It was Kutzler’s second career touchdown return of an interception.
The Jayhawks tied the score 7-7 early in the second quarter, when Heaps found Tony Pierson on a slant, and Pierson broke free from his defenders and raced 77 yards for the score. The Owls responded on their ensuing possession with an eight-play drive, highlighted by McHargue hitting receiver Dennis Parks on a 54-yard strike that moved the ball deep into Kansas territory. Boswell followed by connecting on a 40-yard field goal that gave the Owls a 10-7 lead.
Later in the second quarter, the Owls stopped a Kansas scoring opportunity when Bryce Callahan came up with his ninth career interception, off a deflection.
“That was a big play, but it wasn’t nearly as big as the one that went to the house early in the game,” said Kansas head coach Charlie Weis. “I think that our passing game, for the second week in a row, was inadequate. I don’t know how many dropped balls we had again, but we dropped some big ones in this game.
“In the first half, we threw two interceptions, and we dropped two third-down conversions,” he said. “Those third-down conversions are drive-killers, just like the interceptions are.”
Rice then moved the football 71 yards down the field and capitalized when Boswell booted a 28-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half, making the score 13-7.
The teams traded possessions and punts in the third quarter until Kansas kicker Matthew Wyman missed a 47-yard field goal attempt. Two plays later, McHargue made his first mistake of the night when his pass was intercepted by Isaiah Johnson, and returned to the Owls’ 25 yard line.
Heaps converted a critical third-down play when he scrambled and found Tre Parmelee for a 17-yard completion that ended up just short of the Rice goal line. Heaps then scored on a plunge to give the Jayhawks their first lead of the game, 14-13.
“I said to our defensive coaches, when you hold your opponent to 16 (offensive) points, it should be good enough to win,” said Kansas head coach Charlie Weis. “We played a good scheme and had a strong game from beginning to end.”
James Sims led the Jayhawks with 109 yards rushing on 19 carries. Rice took a 2-1 lead in the all-time series between the schools.