Rice holds on against Houston 34-31

HOUSTON The Cougars (3-3, 2-1 Conference USA) trailed 27-7 before scoring 24 unanswered points to take a 31-27 lead on a field goal by Matt Hogan with about nine minutes remaining.

But Fanuzzi threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald with 4:24 remaining for the win.

The Cougars tried to come back again, but on fourth-and-inches from the Rice 42, quarterback David Piland fumbled the snap and the Owls (2-5, 1-2) took over on downs.

Sam McGuffie rushed for 63 yards on 19 carries to lead Rice on the ground.

Piland threw for 282 yards and three touchdown on 23-of-45 passing, and Bryce Beall rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries to lead Houston. Patrick Edwards had 169 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions.

Rice scored first when Jeremy Eddington ran in to make it 6-0 with about 12 minutes left in the first quarter. The Owls then extended their lead with a 29-yard pass from Fanuzzi to Luke Wilson to make it 13-0 midway through the quarter.

Houston answered with a touchdown pass from Piland to Edwards to cut the lead to 13-7 in the opening quarter.

Turner Petersen upped the lead to 20-7 with a touchdown run in the second quarter, and Fanuzzi found Randy Kitchens on the Owls' next possession for a 59-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-7 with a little more than six minutes left in the first half.

The Cougars responded with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Piland to Edwards to cut the lead to 27-14 before halftime.

In the third quarter, Piland connected with Edwards again on a 48-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-21, capping a 10-play, 99-yard drive.

Beall then punched it in from a yard out to give the Cougars a 28-27 lead in the third.

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