With the latest edition of the Bayou Bucket set for this Saturday at Rice Stadium, the R Blog will spend this week looking back at some of the Owls' memorable moments in the series with the Cougars since it began in 1971.
To kick things off, we take a look back at Rice's first win in the series, two years before the Bayou Bucket trophy was created.
September 9, 1972
Rice 14, Houston 13
While the larger world of sports was shocked to hear the news from Munich that the United States had lost the Olympic men's basketball gold medal to the Russians in a maddening conclusion that featured multiple endings and "final" horns, an estimated crowd of 52,000 at Rice Stadium we treated to a memorable and confusing ending of their own as Rice held on to defeat Houston, 14-13.
Bruce Gadd threw a pair of touchdown passes to Ed Collins, and the Owls never trailed in the game, but it was a stout Rice defense that withstood multiple late challenges by the Cougars for the win. Trailing 14-7, Houston drove to the Rice 12 early in the 4th quarter only to be thwarted on fourth down. But the Owls fumbled the ball right back, and this time Houston would capitalize on the miscue as Leonard Parker scored on a short run with 9:56 left in the game.
However, in keeping with the unpredictable nature of the sports universe on this night, the snap on the extra point was mishandled and Rice held on to a one-point lead.
Rather than risk a field goal after the earlier PAT mishap, they turned to Parker to slam it home for the win, but he was denied just short of the goal line. But in a scene that looked much like some recent high-profile college games, the Cougars had used all their timeouts earlier in the drive adding another layer to frantic atmosphere and the clock wound down. Houston mounted one last challenge with 1:33 left in the game, moving 60 yards to find the ball inches from the Rice goal line.
But Rice' s Preston Anderson knifed through to drop Nobles for a three-yard loss and apparently ice the win... Or did he? Cougar quarterback D.C Nobles took the snap and looked to make a game-winning play after time had expired. The Cougars and Owls then scrambled to reset the ball for one last play.
Unlike our modern game where the phrase "The previous play is under review" would certainly have cut the through the noise and stalled any celebrations until it could be confirmed, it was not until later in the dressing room was it revealed that the final play had been Parker's rush into the line. Nobles' effort had come after the clock had run out and had not counted.
It mattered little to the celebrating Owls which play had ended the contest, all that mattered was that in either scenario, the result was the same. Rice 14, Houston 13.