(Sports Network) – Sophomore running back Tre’ Newton rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, as the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns bounced back from a slow start to defeat the Rice Owls, 34-17, in the season opener for both schools.
Newton rushed for 61 yards on 18 carries for the Longhorns (1-0), fresh off yet another Big 12 Conference title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game, which it lost to Alabama (37-21).
Sophomore Garrett Gilbert started the post-Colt McCoy era, connecting on 14- of-23 passes for 172 yards. Malcolm Williams caught four passes for 77 yards.
Taylor McHargue completed 6-of-11 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown, and an interception for the Owls (0-1), who went just 2-10 last year. Randy Kitchens caught a TD pass and Charles Ross ran for a score.
Rice put together an impressive 14-play drive to begin the game. The Owls got down to the 13 of Texas, but a sack on third down forced the field goal unit to come on. Chris Boswell made a 42-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
The Longhorns responded with a long drive of their own, but it resulted in zero points. Faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the one, Cody Johnson was stuffed at the line for no gain. Johnson lost four yards on fourth down for a turnover on downs.
McHargue was picked off by Keenan Robinson just two plays into Rice’s ensuing possession. On the first play of the second quarter, Justin Tucker made a 51- yard field goal to tie the contest.
The Owls marched down the field before Boswell failed to make a 48-yarder. That proved to be a turning point in the game, as Texas put together a nine- play, 69-yard drive. Newton capped it with a one-yard TD run for a 10-3 Longhorns lead.
McHargue fumbled while being sacked on Rice’s ensuing drive. Robinson picked up the loose ball and ran 11 yards into the end zone. Newton added a two-yard rushing touchdown on Texas’ next drive to make it a 24-3 game.
The Owls were able to record a touchdown right before the half when Kitchens hauled in a deflected pass for a 47-yard score. The play was reviewed and upheld, making it 24-10 at the break.
Tucker missed a pair of field goals in the third frame, but Newton scored on a one-yard run to make it 31-10 heading to the fourth.
A 26-yard Tucker field goal midway through the fourth quarter extended Texas’ margin to 34-10. Ross added a TD late for Rice to account for the final score.
Texas owns a 70-21-1 record against Rice in the all-time series, which dates back to 1914. The Longhorns have won the last 11 meetings, and 39 of the last 40 encounters between the two overall…Head coach Mack Brown is 12-1 in openers at Texas, including 11 in a row…The Longhorns had 369 yards of total offense, compared to 219 yards for the Owls…Johnson rushed for 59 yards on 15 carries.