No. 24 Football defeats Rice, 34-9, in season opener
Sept. 3, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 24 Texas (1-0) amassed 506 yards of total offense and kept Rice (0-1) out of the end zone on its way to a 34-9 season-opening victory Saturday evening before 101,624 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas wins its 12th straight season opener and improves to 13-1 in season openers under Mack Brown. Texas totaled 500-plus yards of total offense for the 47th time in the Mack Brown era.
Mike Davis totaled a career-best 115 receiving yards, while Garrett Gilbert went 13-for-23 in the air for 239 yards and a touchdown. The Texas defense held Rice to three field goals, as the Longhorns kept an opponent from reaching the end zone for the first time since the 2009 Big 12 Championship against Nebraska. The Horns limited the Owls to 224 yards of total offense on 60 plays. Emmanuel Acho tallied a team-best 10 tackles (3 solo), while Carrington Byndom led the Horns with two tackles-for-loss.
Texas answered an early Rice field goal with a 39-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. The Horns' 58-yard drive was highlighted by a 56-yard connection from Gilbert to Davis that moved the Horns into Rice territory at the Owls' 27-yard line.
Two drives later, Texas capitalized upon a Rice miscue, as UT's Adrian Phillips recovered a punt fumbled by the Owls' Xavier Webb at the Rice 20-yard line. A Fozzy Whittaker 6-yard run set up 1st and goal for Texas just inside the Rice 10. Cody Johnson plunged into the end zone from a yard out on 3rd and goal, and Texas assumed a 10-3 lead with 14:19 remaining in the second quarter.
The Longhorns extended their lead to 13-3 behind a 23-yard Tucker field goal. Buoyed by a 24-yard run by Gilbert, Texas marched 74 yards in 14 plays while taking 6:17 off of the clock. Gilbert connected with Darius White for 10 yards to the Rice 20, and Jaxon Shipley set up 1st and goal at the Rice 8 when he took an end-around down the left sideline for 12 yards. Tucker converted on his second field goal attempt moments later. Rice's Boswell pulled the Owls within 13-6 just before halftime with a 49-yard field goal.
Rice cut the Texas lead to 13-9 after advancing 46 yards on 7 plays in its first drive of the third quarter. The Owls' Boswell connected on his third consecutive field goal attempt, this time from 26 yards. But Texas effectively mixed its air and ground attacks on the ensuing drive to push its lead to 20-9.
D.J. Monroe took a reverse for six yards before Gilbert found White for 13 yards to the UT 47. The Horns mixed in additional carries for Monroe, Malcolm Brown and Johnson before taking to the air to finish off the drive. John Harris took a reverse, escaped a defender and lofted a 36-yard touchdown pass to Shipley, who went high and came down with the ball near the right pylon despite a flagged Rice pass interference call. The touchdown was upheld upon video review. It marked the first Texas touchdown pass by a non-quarterback since 1997 (Ricky Williams).
Texas held Rice to one first down on its next possession, and after a Rice punt backed Texas up to its one-yard line, the Horns quickly found breathing room. A Rice offside penalty moved the ball to the UT 6 before Garrett hooked up with Davis for another long strike, this one a 55-yard completion to the Rice 39. After another Texas first down, Monroe ran for 17 yards to set up 1st and goal at the Rice 10. After a Joe Bergeron carry to the Rice 7, Whittaker took a direct snap and scampered into the end zone to give the Longhorns a 27-9 lead.
Texas put the game well out of reach by going 94 yards on 11 plays while running off 5:17 in the fourth quarter. Brown carried seven times for 50 yards on the drive, which culminated with Whittaker taking a Gilbert screen pass 26 yards for a touchdown and a 34-9 Longhorns lead. Whittaker became the first Texas player to run for a touchdown and catch a touchdown pass in the same quarter since Selvin Young in the 2006 season opener against North Texas.