Black Knights cap­i­tal­ize on Owls’ mis­cues

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Glynn A. Hill twit­­n_hill

Rice quar­ter­back Miklo Smalls prob­a­bly didn’t imag­ine his fifth ca­reer pass would go for a touch­down.

Un­for­tu­nately for Rice, it was a score for Army on the way to its 49-12 win Satur­day night at Rice Sta­dium.

The Owls’ third drive of the game looked promis­ing af­ter tight end Jor­dan My­ers ran 4 yards for a first down. But a play later, Max Re­gan in­ter­cepted Smalls and took it back 48 yards for the Black Knights.

Over the next four min­utes, Rice coughed the ball up three times as Army turned each fum­ble into a touch­down.

Just four sec­onds into the sec­ond quar­ter, Rice trailed 28-0.

“Com­ing into the sec­ond half of the sea­son we never thought we’d be 1-5,” Owls coach David Bailiff said. “We had high hopes, big goals and big ex­pec­ta­tions for the sec­ond half of the sea­son, so we’ve got to change.”

De­spite a new look at quar­ter­back, the re­sults re­mained largely the same for strug­gling Rice, which lost its fourth con­sec­u­tive game to Army (4-2).

With start­ing quar­ter­back Sam Glaes­mann out for the third con­sec­u­tive week and backup Jack­son Tyner throw­ing three in­ter­cep­tions last Satur­day at Pitts­burgh, Rice gave Smalls the start.

A touted fresh­man out of Plano, Smalls com­pleted two of five passes for 11 yards and gained 2 yards on the ground. He was pulled af­ter fum­bling the hand­off to Austin Wal­ter on a sweep play — af­ter just five pos­ses­sions.

“(Smalls) had en­er­gized the team through some of the plays he was mak­ing out there at prac­tice this week,” Bailiff said. “So I thought his de­vel­op­ment was where he could go out there and win a foot­ball game for us.”

Tyner fin­ished the game, com­plet­ing seven of 16 passes for 135 yards and a touch­down, adding 19 yards rush­ing.

Rice got on the board early in the third quar­ter when run­ning back Em­manuel Esukpa (six car­ries for 56 yards) burst up field for a 22-yard touch­down, but the ex­tra-point kick was blocked.

The Owls scored again on a fourth-quar­ter, 58-yard pass to re­ceiver Aaron Ce­phus, but failed to con­vert the two-point con­ver­sion.

Rice ended the game with six turnovers, in­clud­ing five fum­bles.

“We only had one (take­away),” Bailiff said. “We’ve got to get the turnover bat­tles go­ing, I don’t think we’ve won one this year.”

On de­fense, a unit that came in ranked 35th against the run was tasked with slow­ing the third-best ground at­tack in col­lege foot­ball.

The Owls played well through Army’s first two pos­ses­sions but melted as Rice turnovers en­abled the Black Knights to pound the ball.

On three con­sec­u­tive drives, the Rice de­fense took the field af­ter less than a minute of rest on the side­line.

Army rushed for 418 yards with all but their de­fen­sive touch­down com­ing on the ground. Sopho­more run­ning back Kell Walker led Army with 127 yards on 10 car­ries.

Ja­maal El­lis

Army’s Kell Walker, left, takes off against the Owls. Walker was the game’s lead­ing rusher, car­ry­ing 10 times for 127 yards.

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