Kenny Hill threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and No. 7 Texas A&M overcame a slow start for a 38-10 win over Rice on Saturday night.
The win gives the Aggies a 3-0 record for the first time since 2010.
Texas A&M led by 14 points at halftime, but struggled at times to sustain drives and committed several costly penalties, including one that resulted in a touchdown being called back, in the first half.
They got going after halftime with Hill finding Josh Reynolds on a 20-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter. A 1-yard touchdown run by Tra Carson pushed the lead to 35-10 later in the third.
Hill also had TD passes of 14, 13 and 48 yards and has 1,094 yards passing this season to become the first player in school history to throw for 1,000 yards in the first three games of a season.
Driphus Jackson threw for 212 yards and a touchdown and ran for 84 yards for Rice (0-2).
There was heavy rain in College Station on Friday night and there were a number of divots on the grass field. Rice coach David Bailiff went on the field near some of them at the start of halftime and talked to several people for a couple of minutes before going into the locker room.
Members of the grounds crew ran onto the field during many of the stops in play in the second half to fill the holes. At one point in the third quarter there were 10 people spread across the field working on it.
Reynolds had just two catches but they were both for touchdowns and he finished with 68 yards receiving.
Hill had a nifty run to set up Carson's score in the third quarter. He zig-zagged his way around several Rice defenders before being tripped up from behind at the 1. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but it was reviewed and overturned.
Hill was replaced by freshman Kyle Allen with about five minutes remaining. Allen threw an interception to end his only drive.
James Hairston made a 33-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the third quarter for Rice. A career-long 47-yard field goal by Josh Lambo pushed the lead to 38-10 early in the fourth quarter.
A&M took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Speedy Noil grabbed a 14-yard pass for his first career touchdown.
The Aggies made it 14-0 on their next possession when Hill found Ricky Seals-Jones for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The Owls got within a touchdown when Jackson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mario Hull.
Reynolds came back to get the ball and then juked Malcolm Hill to evade a tackle on his way to the end zone on a 48-yard touchdown reception that made it 21-7 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
Hairston hit a 53-yard field goal seconds before halftime that would have made it 21-10, but A&M was flagged for having 12 men on the field and the Owls had to kick again.
The second time it was blocked by Seals-Jones and Armani Watts returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. But those points would be taken away, too. There was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the A&M bench and the would-be TD run became a 35-yard return.
Hairston also missed a 22-yard field goal attempt early in the first quarter.
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On the slow start…
"I think people have become spoiled with our offense. If we don't score on the first play then the sky is falling. To have the ball for sixteen minutes and score 38 points, I can't be mad at that."
On Myles Garrett…
"He's tied the school record for most sacks in a season by a freshman and we've only played three games. I think it's safe to say the future is bright for that young man."
On the defensive performance…
"Well just look at the scoreboard. We held them to ten points.”
On Armani Watts…
"You're never going to accuse him of not playing hard."
On Tra Carson…
"Tra was very good. He was very physical, and it pulled the defense in, that's why you saw the deep ball being thrown."
JUNIOR RUNNING BACK TRA CARSON
"I think we did good but I know we can do better as a whole. Next week we have to play better and prepare better."
On playing again…
"It felt great. Last week it was kind of hard to sit out there and watch my team go to war and not being able to play with them. So it felt great."
On ankle tackles…
"I was very close, I think that comes with not playing last week. I feel like I was rusty so hopefully that gets better next week."
SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK KENNY HILL
"I think we started off slow. We never want to start it off slow. We are going to work on that and fix that and be better next week. We just weren't really clicking and we weren't executing the way that we want to. Like I said we are going to get that fixed and be ready to go. All the stuff we were doing offensively was working."
On sophomore wide receiver Edward Pope…
“He is very important to our offense. He is a great player and he loves to play. He comes out there and plays hard every single day. He is a baller. He is someone you can send out there and if you need a big play you can trust him to get things done."
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN JULIEN OBIOHA
"Rice is a really good team. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. We knew that they might get some yardage on us and they did. When they got into the redzone we just buckled down and made sure that they didn't get any more yardage and made sure not to let them convert."
On the field conditions…
"It’s a new field. We have to get used to it. Conditions are not always perfect."
FRESHMAN WIDE RECEIVER RICKY SEALS-JONES
“The field was kind of bad but both teams had to play on it so you can't say that the field was bad and that's why we didn't play as good as we could have. Both teams had to play on it and perform on it.”
On what improvements can be made…
“I think we did good but we can always be better so we've just got to go back in on Monday, watch film, and get back to work and get ready for next week’s game.”
SENIOR LINEBACKER JUSTIN BASS
“It was decent but I feel like we could have played better. We need to be sharper on our assignments, better execution, just be a smart defense overall.”
On the Rice offense…
“Anytime you play a dual threat quarterback there is some difficulty to it. I mean I've been used to it since I've played him in high school so I was kind of expecting that coming out, but it's just being more disciplined being able to know when he might break down and try to make a play.”
On how the defense can improve…
“It's more being smarter, executing better, knowing what you have and where your eyes are supposed to be, just a more focused defense. Because that's what coach asks us to play smart and play fast and we didn't play as smart as we could tonight.”
HEAD COACH DAVID BAILIFF
“Coming here knowing they are the seventh ranked team in the country, but you come here dreaming big, hoping to win this one. I thought our players really prepared to come here and win a football game. I was extremely proud of this football team with the effort we played with offensively and defensively, and on special teams. Where it went wrong, we had six drives of over eight plays where we only had three points. We had a drive of 14 plays where we didn’t get points. Time of possession, we had the ball for 43 minutes. Time of possession is important when you’re getting points out of those drives. If you’re not scoring points, then it really doesn’t help you. One of the things we did last year is we got points at the end of those drives. We’ll get better. We’re going to be a good football team. All of our goals are intact.”
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK DRIPHUS JACKSON
On finishing drives…
“We just have to finish the drive. It’s a little disappointing to be out there for 43 minutes and only put up 10 points. But, I think the offense played well. We responded from last weekend, especially the receivers. Even with the field conditions, they were able to keep their feet and make plays. We just have to do a better job of putting points on the board. We have to take the stress off of the defense. I think we will do that going forward. It hurts not winning. You always want to win the big games. But, we understand this is a learning process, and our goals are still intact. We want to be conference champions.”
SENIOR DEFENSIVE END DYLAN KLARE
On keeping the game close…
“We wanted to keep executing what was called. Obviously, they are a high-powered offense, so keeping them contained was our main goal. I felt like we hunted together very well. We executed calls, kept up with their pace. I was proud of the defense today.”