Rice Defeats SMU 56-27 In Opener

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: September 4, 2008

HOUSTON — The Rice Owls led by quarterback Chase Clement, receiver Jarrett Dillard, and a tough defensive unit captured a 56-27 season-opening victory over the SMU Mustangs in front of 23,164 at Rice Stadium.

Playing in front of a national-television audience on ESPN, Rice converted five SMU turnovers into 28 points while harassing SMU and former Katy Tigers freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

SMU, under new head coach June Jones, unleashed their run-and-shoot offense on the Owls to take a 13-0 lead. However, Rice reeled off 28 consecutive points over four consecutive drives.

“I’m so proud of this team because of the way we came back,” Rice head coach David Baliff said. “We were down 13-0 and instead of hitting the panic button, we shifted gears.”

Rice added another 28-0 run in the second half after SMU pulled within 28-20 early in the third quarter. Clement connected with four receivers led by All-American wide receiver Jarrett Dillard, in the first half.

The dynamic-duo moved their combined total to 35, three off the Bowl Subdivision record held by Tim Rattay and Troy Edwards, and Colt Brennan.

Clement passed for 258 yards and six touchdowns in the game. Defensively, Brandon King and safety Andrew Sendejo both returned interceptions for touchdowns.

This was the second consecutive time that Sendejo returned an interception for a touchdown vs. SMU. Because of his efforts, Sendejo was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week.

He also had four tackles and was credited with breaking up a pass.