James Hairston

No. 7 Texas A&M leading, but not blowing out, Rice at the half

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Say this for the defending Conference USA champion Rice Owls: they are not intimidated to play in Kyle Field. A year ago, Rice came to College Station and led a temporarily Johnny Manziel-less Aggies squad 14-7 after one quarter, and trailed only 28-21 at the half before giving way for a 52-31 final. This year it’s been more of the same as No. 7 Texas A&M has a 21-7 halftime edge, but has been outgained by Rice 269-215.

Driphus Jackson has kept a talented Aggies defense at bay, completing 10-of-15 throws for 118 yards and a touchdown while leading all runners with 55 yards on nine carries. Overall, Rice has produced 151 yards on 30 carries.

Jackson’s counterpart Kenny Hill has gotten his yards, but not in the usual explosive fashion, completing 13-of-19 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. It should put some perspective on how good Hill and this offense has been this season when 151 yards and three scores counts as a slow start. Rice has come to play against the Aggies’ run game, limiting the hosts to only 64 yards on the ground.

The most bizarre turn of events came at the very end of the half, as Rice had to take points off the board with four seconds remaining as a made field goal was nullified due to an illegal substitution by Texas A&M. The ensuing kick was blocked by A&M’s James Hairston, and Armani Watts picked the loose ball up and ran it for an apparent touchdown, but that scoring play was also called back due to a glut of A&M players that had come on the field. Hill took a knee with zero time remaining to end the half.

Texas A&M gets the ball to open the second half.