Without the flair and pageantry that comes with some of the conference championship games we are seeing later today, the Conference USA Championship Game has been a fun one to watch over the years. This year’s edition is not quite set up to be a classic, with Rice leading Marshall 21-10 at the half.
Rice piled on points midway through the first quarter, scoring two touchdowns in the span of just over two minutes. Rice pulled some tricks with Luke Turner taking a pitch from the wildcat and completing a 35 yard touchdown pass to Donte Moore over the middle to open the scoring for the game five minutes in to the game. After the Rice defense pushed Marshall back five yards on a three-and-out, the Owls quickly struck again. This time it was Taylor McHargue unloading the scoring strike with a 75-yard pass to Jordan Taylor, who out-ran two defenders and moved his way to the left sideline to sprint the rest of the way.
Rice took a 21-3 lead before Rakeem Cato and Marshall managed to get in to the end zone. Cato kept one play away as he was being pushed to the right sideline when he avoided one defender and unloaded a ball to his receiver, Gator Hoskins, just shy of the end zone. The play set up a short run for Devon Johnson to pull Marshall to within 11 points before halftime. The half ended with the teams exchanging five punts between them.
We could still be in for a fun finish. Marshall and Rice are each capable of putting up some points in a hurry, but the Thundering Herd have struggled on the road at times and the cold weather may be playing a factor.