What a night to be a Raider! On a night full of Homecoming festivities and Friday Night Lights, the Rice Raiders (1-2) took care of business by running through the 1-3 Brazos Cougars in their Homecoming game. The Raiders protected their house Friday night in Altair at Rice Veterans Memorial Stadium, better known as the “ Swamp” in a flawless 38 - 14 winning effort.
The game kicked off with the Raiders Senior Quarterback No.1 Ian Hargrove throwing a 40-yard strike to No. 11 Junior Warren Scott for a touchdown, giving the Raiders a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter over the Cougars. Inconsistency played a factor for the Raiders early as well. A fumble by the Raiders was recovered by the Cougars on their own 48-yard line. “Taking care of the football is one of the things I harp on with these guys. If you protect the ball and win the turnover battle, your chances of winning are greater. Being consistent and disciplined is what I want my guys to learn,” second year Athletic Director and head football coach Jared Sloan said.
Momentum shifted a bit but did not faze the Raiders much, as they would soon go ahead and recover a fumble of their own which led to a 12-yard rushing touchdown from Hargrove. That would give the Raiders a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. “It’s all about being able to play four full quarters of football and competing no matter what,” Sloan said. “By being able to play four full quarters of football, it puts your team in a position to win games. Having kids step up when a player goes down with an injury is huge too, because it gives a real sense of what kind of team you have and can be.”
Consistency was on the Raider’s minds when a 32-yard field goal was made by Senior No.22 Erick Guiterrez, which gave the Raiders a chance to extend their lead to 17-0 over the Cougars. Heading into the second half of the game, the Raiders started to take complete charge with a fumble recovery returned for a 2-yard touchdown by Junior No. 2 Dontavion Fuller.
This gave the Raiders a 24-8 lead early in the third quarter. But Fuller wasn’t finished yet - he scored again for the Raiders on a 5-yard rushing touchdown, which moved their lead to an ecstatic 31 points. The Raiders, who have struggled earlier this season, were finally starting to put the pieces together. Brazos would then go on and score late in the third quarter for a touchdown pass from No. 56 August Hale to No. 2 Jaylin Vela. Soon after, the Cougars attempted a 2-point conversion, but the mighty Raider defense would crush their hopes of getting into the endzone once again.
With Rice being up on Brazos 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter, you could tell the Raiders were not done yet. Hargrove, already with his second big rushing game of the season with 122 yards, would go ahead and add his longest run of the night with a 33-yard touchdown. That would set the Raiders up for an even bigger lead of 38-14, which put the final nail in the coffin for the Brazos Cougars. Even though the scoreboard says the game was an impressive showing for the Raiders, there are still things the Raiders want to improve on heading into the upcoming bye week. “ Getting these guys healthy and fixing the mistakes that were made in the game are a couple of our goals. But most importantly, taking care of school work, is our main focus heading into off-week, while preparing for our next opponent,” Sloan stated.
The Raiders will be in action again Friday Oct.11 to take on Palacios at 7:30 p.m. at Gulf Coast Stadium in Palacios.