Rice backup quarterback Jackson Tyner threw two touchdown passes, and caught another touchdown leading Rice to an easy 44-24 win over UTEP Saturday morning/afternoon.
The Miner offense struggled from their opening possession putting up just 232 yards of total offense and averaged just 4.5 yards per play, while the Owls scored 34 unanswered points putting UTEP in a deep hole early.
Rice’s defense forced five UTEP three-and-outs, and held UTEP to a 3.5 yard per carry average in the game.
The Owl’s first possession of the game looked promising, but then the UTEP defense made a huge play giving the Miners some early momentum.
A play after Rice quarterback Tyler Stehling left the game with a leg injury, Gene Hopkins forced a sack and fumble on Tyner which was recovered by Sky Logan who returned it 27 yards to the Rice 25-yard line.
Despite the great field position, UTEP would settle for a 37-yard Jay Mattox field goal to open the scoring with 9:10 left in the opening quarter.
Rice would quickly answer with a 7-play, 75 scoring drive to take an early lead they would never relinquish.
The Owls would be gifted 15-yards on a phantom pass interference call on Kalon Beverly as the Owls took a deep shot at the end zone while on the UTEP 30-yard line on a second-and-ten.
Two plays later, Austin Walter took an option pitch up the right side nine-yards for the touchdown, putting the Owls up 6-3 after the Miners blocked the extra point.
UTEP’s offense netted only 20 yards on their first three drives, and Rice took control with another impressive touchdown drive.
Rice would go 46-yards in six plays after a second straight UTEP three-and-out and go up 13-3 after a one yard touchdown run by Jowan Davis with 12:59 left until halftime.
After another poor drive from the UTEP offense, Rice pulled a rabbit out of their back pocket, and buried UTEP with a well-timed trick play.
The Owls would run a double-reverse with wideout Temi Alaka hooking up with quarterback Jackson Tyner for a 24-yard pass and catch to finish off a 4-play, 84 yard scoring drive as the Owls took a commanding 20-3 lead with nine minutes left until the half.
Rice would tack on two more scores before halftime, including a 23-yard pick six by Destri White off of Ryan Metz as the Owls took a 34-3 lead into the halftime break.
Metz, Aaron Jones and the offense were completely shut down in the first half. Metz was 5-of-12 passing for just 24 yards, Jones had just 31 yards on eight rushing attempts in the opening half.
UTEP would score their first touchdown on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Metz to Warren Redix on a 9-play, 75 yard scoring drive in where Metz was 5-of-6 passing for 62 yards.
Although Rice would answer with a 41-yard touchdown strike from Tyner to Cameron Decell and led 41-10 on Tyner’s second touchdown pass of the afternoon with 5:50 left in the third quarter.
Metz would find Aaron Jones who out jumped a defender on a 50/50 ball for a 49-yard touchdown pass, then Kalon Beverly ran back a blocked field goal 80-yards for UTEP’s later scores, but the Miners were doomed at halftime.
Jones ended the day with 75 yards rushing, he added another 51 yards receiving on five catches, while his brother Alvin piled up 16 total tackles, including a sack.
Rice ran for 236 yards led by Jowan Davis who ran for 84 yards on 11 carries, eight different Owls caught passes as Tyner ended the day going 18-for-25 passing for 196 yards.
UTEP drops to 3-8 overall, and 1-6 in C-USA play, losing their 10th straight game in Houston against Rice.