(Tuesday, December 30th)
Final Score: Rice 38, Western Michigan 14
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Chase Clement threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns, as the Rice Owls won their first bowl in 54 years with a 38-14 victory over Western Michigan in the Texas Bowl.
Clement also ran for 72 yards and a touchdown and caught a 13-yard TD, as Rice won a bowl game for the first time since the 1954 Cotton Bowl against Alabama. The Owls (10-3) also hadn't recorded double-digit wins since the 1949 season. Rice participated in its ninth bowl in school history, but just its second since 1961, including the 2006 New Orleans where Rice was defeated by Troy, 41-17.
Clement finished 30-of-44 passing for the Owls, who won their seventh consecutive game this season. Jarett Dillard logged eight catches for 86 yards with a score and also threw for a TD in the win. James Casey had 112 yards on seven grabs with a score and Toren Dixon also caught a touchdown.
This was the second straight bowl game for the Broncos, but just the fourth in the school's history. Unfortunately for WMU, all four of the Broncos' postseason appearances ended in defeat, including 2007 in the International Bowl, as WMU was beaten by Cincinnati in heartbreaking fashion, 27-24.
Tim Hiller threw for 198 yards, two TDs and two picks on 19-of-42 efficiency for the Broncos (9-4), who lost their last two games to fail to record the first 10-win season in school history. Brandon West led the way on the ground with 56 yards on 15 touches. Jamarko Simmons had 92 yards on six catches, while Schneider Julien and Kirk Elsworth recorded TD grabs.
Rice started at its own 33-yard-line with 7:57 left in the first quarter and embarked on a six-play drive that resulted in a 7-0 lead for the Owls about 2 1/2 minutes later. Clement capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run.
Clark Fangmeier drilled a 30-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the first frame and the Owls assumed a 10-0 advantage.
The Owls started at their own 22 early in the second quarter. The team used short runs and passes before a 12-yard connection from Clement to Dillard put the ball at midfield. The drive eventually culminated as Clement hit Dixon for a six-yard TD to make it 17-0 with 6:53 left in the half.
A 45-yard TD pass from Clement to Casey gave Rice a 24-0 lead, which held up through the half.
Western Michigan was sluggish in the first half, recording just 21 rushing yards and 69 yards through the air over the first two quarters. The Broncos also lost the battle for time of possession, 21:02-8:58. The Owls amassed 114 rushing yards and 169 passing yards.
The first three drives of the second half all resulted in punts, and Rice started at its own 36 with 9:44 left in the third. Clement hit Dixon for gains of seven, six and 20 yards on the first three plays, respectively, to move the ball to the WMU 31. Six plays later, Clement took the snap in shotgun formation and threw a pass to Dillard, on his left. Dillard then launched a pass to a wide-open Clement down the right sideline for a 13-yard score and 31-0 Owls lead.
Clement hit Dillard for an 18-yard TD pass early in the fourth for a 38-0 lead, but the Broncos responded with a nine-play, 69-yard drive that culminated with a two-yard touchdown pass from Hiller to Elsworth with 6:33 left.
Hiller hit Julien for a 13-yard score with 25 ticks left to account for the final margin.
Prior to the game, Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit signed a new five- year contract that will go into effect in 2009...This was the first-ever meeting between the two schools...Rice outgained WMU, 455-278. The Broncos had only 61 rushing yards.
12/31 00:12:59 ET