Navy 41, Rice 9
Matt Hall rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns as Navy beat Rice, 41-9, on Saturday to extend the Owls' nation-leading losing streak to 12 games.
Karlos Whittaker and Trey Hines also had touchdown runs for Navy (4-2), which enjoyed its largest margin of victory since a 54-21 win over Rutgers last November. Four of Navy's previous five games this year were decided by three points and the fifth was a 28-21 win over Duke on Oct. 1.
"I was getting tired of all the close games," Hall said. "That's something we talked about -- that we don't have to make it close."
Chase Clement went 10 for 22 for 81 yards and threw a touchdown pass for Rice (0-6), which is off to its worst start since going 0-11 in 1988. Clement, a redshirt freshman, started for sophomore Joel Armstrong, who injured his shoulder in last week's loss to Tulsa. Armstrong played on Saturday, but Clement took most of the snaps.
The Midshipmen, the nation's fourth-best rushing team, had 301 yards on 44 carries against the Owls, who ranked 106th out of 117 I-A teams in run defense.
"We're obviously not very good right now," Rice Coach Ken Hatfield said. "We play hard, I don't think we play good. There's a big difference between playing hard and playing good and we have to figure out a way to play good."
Navy led 13-3 at halftime, but blew several chances to start the rout earlier.
On the only two plays of the Midshipmen's second possession, Owens scampered for 26 yards on an option keeper and Hall burst up the middle for a 31-yard touchdown.
Rice halfback Tommy Henderson fumbled less than two minutes later at the Owls 18-yard line, but Navy wide receiver Jason Tomlinson lost five yards on a third-down run and Joey Bullen sliced a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Navy had first-down gains negated by penalties on its next two possessions. On the Midshipmen's next drive, Owens threw a wobbly 54-yard pass to Marco Nelson, but then overthrew Mick Yokitis in the end zone. Navy settled for a 24-yard field goal by Bullen and a 10-0 lead.
"Offensively, we weren't as consistent as I'd like," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "We missed a lot of opportunities. It was feast or famine -- either we got big plays, or they got us."
Sophomore Luke Juist got the Owls on the board with a line-drive 53-yard field goal that bounced over the crossbar. Juist's first field goal of the season was the fourth-longest in school history.
Brian Hampton, who replaced a limping Owens on Navy's final first-half possession, had two long runs to give the Midshipmen a first down at the Rice 14. The drive stalled there, though, and Bullen kicked a 31-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half.
Navy finally took control with a flurry of big plays to open the second half.
Whittaker returned the kickoff to midfield, Owens and Hines had consecutive first-down runs and Whittaker broke two tackles on a 19-yard touchdown run just 40 seconds into the third quarter.
A minute later, Navy linebacker Tyler Tidwell crashed into Armstrong and forced a fumble inside the Rice 20. Owens zipped a pass to Tomlinson for 11 yards and then pitched to Hall for a seven-yard touchdown run and a 27-3 Navy lead.