Rice Cruises To Hawaii Bowl Win
Driphus Jackson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns to lead Rice to a 30-6 victory over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.
The Hawai'i Bowl brought back memories of the old WAC, and Rice finally got its revenge against Fresno State. Entering this Christmas Eve contest, the Owls were 0-6 against the Bulldogs. They ended the hex with a 30-6 blowout. Here's the breakdown:
How the game was won: After surrendering 76 points in an embarrassing loss to Louisiana Tech in its most recent game, Rice regrouped to post a stout defensive performance. The Owls' secondary was particularly impressive. They pushed Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell into an absolutely miserable performance. He was 10-of-20 passing for 44 yards and 2 interceptions before being yanked for backup Zack Greenlee, who didn't fare much better (7-of-18, 49 yards). Given the fact that the Rice defense held the Bulldogs to 3.2 yards per play, the Owls didn't need much to win offensively. But they racked up 463 total yards on that side of the ball anyway, making this one a laugher.
Game ball goes to: Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson made it look easy. He finished 15-of-24 passing for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding some 41 rushing yards. With his performance, Jackson became just the third player in Rice history to amass more than 3,000 yards of total offense in a single season.
It was over when: Jackson threw touchdown passes on consecutive Rice offensive plays late in the opening quarter. The first, a 14-yard toss to Jordan Taylor, capped a five-play, 78-yard drive that gave Rice a 9-3 lead. On Fresno State's very next play from scrimmage, J.T. Blasingame intercepted Burrell, so the Owls got the ball right back. Jackson immediately connected with Mario Hull on a 69-yard bomb, and Rice's 16-3 lead proved insurmountable given the way its defense was playing.
Stat of the game: 93 passing yards. That's all Fresno State was able to manage against Rice's defense, with its two quarterbacks attempting 38 passes. Needless to say, 2.4 yards per attempt isn't a winning mark.
Best play: The aforementioned 69-yard strike from Jackson to Hull was fun to watch. A Jackson pump fake and rainbow throw started the play, and an excellent adjustment back to the ball from Hull led to the catch. From that point on, it was a sprint to the end zone and an easy victory for Rice.