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C-USA notebook: Rice owns C-USA's biggest win so far

Not that a win over Kansas will send a wave of fear throughout college football, but that's the biggest victory a Conference USA team has recorded so far.

The victors? The Rice Owls, stealing a 25-24 victory in Lawrence on Chris Boswell's 45-yard field goal with time expiring.

It was Boswell's fourth field goal, with the others coming from 47, 29 and 29 yards. The final boot also capped the Owls' rally from down 24-13 and ended an 11-loss streak on the road.

Quarterback Taylor McHargue ran 12 yards on third-and-7 to get the Owls in field-goal range. Earlier in the drive, he threw to 265-pound wide receiver Vance McDonald for 7 yards on a fourth-and-4.

The drive was set up by a Bryce Callahan interception, giving Rice the ball at the Kansas 47.

"After Boswell was 3 for 3, and Bryce intercepts that ball, Boswell is saying, 'Just get me to the 45-yard line,' " said Rice coach David Bailiff. "That's a pretty good feeling, knowing your kicker is confident that you just need to get to the 45-yard line and he'll knock a 62-yarder through."

After Marshall plays Ohio this weekend, the Thundering Herd will journey to Rice Stadium for the Sept. 22 C-USA opener for both squads.

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  • The marquee matchup this week will be East Carolina (1-1, 0-0) at Southern Mississippi (0-1, 0-0), East Division rivals who have combined for four of the seven league titles since the C-USA went to two divisions.

    Both have lost big to ranked teams, Southern Miss 59-20 to Nebraska two weeks ago and ECU 48-10 to South Carolina last week.

    Both teams also have a big issue behind center. They lost quarterbacks to the NFL - Dominique Davis from ECU to the Falcons and Austin Davis from Southern Miss to the Rams - and they face dilemmas on their ultimate replacement.

    At Southern Miss, junior Chris Campbell started at Nebraska, with freshman Anthony Alford relieving him. Neither was effective, going a combined 7 of 16 for 75 yards.

    Alford is starting Saturday, but coach Ellis Johnson says he will replace Alford if he doesn't produce.

    At ECU, junior Rio Johnson has started both games, including the Pirates' 35-13 first-week win over Appalachian State, but he is being benched this week. Sophomore Shane Carden, who went 12-of-18 for 140 yards in relief at South Carolina, will start.

    The Gamecocks intercepted Johnson three times and Carden once, and recovered a fumble. The Gamecocks also had 528 total yards and converted eight of their 15 third-down attempts.

    "The decision-making by the quarterbacks and taking care of the ball is something that needs to be corrected," said ECU coach Ruffin McNeil.

    The teams are meeting for the 38th time, with the Golden Eagles holding a 27-10 advantage. They have played each other every year since 1983.

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  • Tulane has set up a web page for Devon Walker, who suffered a cervical spine fracture last week in the Green Wave's 45-10 loss at Tulsa. Walker, a senior safety who walked on and earned a scholarship, collided head-to-head with a teammate, defensive tackle Julius Warmsley.

    Walker had surgery Sunday to stabilize his spine, and he remains at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Tulane's athletic website said Wednesday that Walker had "a full day of therapy with good periods of rest as he continues his recovery." No official word has come on whether Walker will suffer permanent paralysis.

    The "Support for Devon Walker" page can be accessed through tulanegreenwave.com.

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  • Speaking of Rice, the Owls will travel to future Conference USA member Louisiana Tech.

    The Bulldogs, who are ending their 12-year stay in the Western Athletic Conference, are attempting a three-game sweep of current or future C-USA foes. Last weekend, they downed Houston in a 56-49 scorefest that wasn't quite that close.

    The Cougars were down 56-35 with 6:36 left, scored twice and couldn't execute the onside kick with 30 seconds left. The game featured a combined 1,291 total yards on 209 scrimmage plays.

    Later in the season, Louisiana Tech plays Texas-San Antonio in what will be a conference game. The Roadrunners are spending a year in the WAC before joining Tech in the six-team migration to C-USA.

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  • Eighty former C-USA players were actively participating on NFL rosters for the opening week, with 14 more on practice squads and eight on injured reserve.

    Central Florida had 14 players total, including three on practice squads and two on injured reserve. Marshall, Houston and Memphis have 12 each.

    From Marshall, linebacker Mario Harvey stuck with the Colts. Others on rosters are running back Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants), defensive end Vinny Curry (Eagles), quarterback Byron Leftwich and center Doug Legursky (Steelers), linebacker Albert McClellan (Ravens), wide receiver Randy Moss and free safety C.J. Spillman (49ers) and tight end Lee Smith (Bills).

    Tackle Daniel Baldridge (Jaguars) and safety Omar Brown (Ravens) started the season on practice squads. Defensive tackle Johnny Jones (Packers) was placed on injured reserve.

    One interesting twist: While ECU's Dominique Davis and Southern Miss' Austin Davis made the opening-day roster, 2011 offensive player of the year Case Keenum of Houston was placed on the Texans' practice squad.

    Briefly

  • Rice's Boswell was named special teams player of the week. Houston's David Piland won offensive honors for his 580-yard passing performance, while Southern Methodist defensive back Kenneth Acker was honored for his two interceptions and two TDs - one by interception return and one on a blocked field goal.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazette.com.

     

     


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