New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - The Rice Owls rushed for six touchdowns as they managed to hold off the Tulane Green Wave, 49-47, in a wild Conference USA matchup at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Charles Ross rushed for 95 yards on 20 carries for Rice (4-6, 2-4 C-USA), which has won three of their last four after a slow start to the season. Taylor McHargue completed 12-of-20 passes for 259 yards and added 60 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Luke Turner finished with just 14 yards on seven carries but he also had two scores.
For the second straight week, Ryan Griffin set a career high in passing yards, completing 28-of-49 passes for 476 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions for Tulane (2-7, 2-3). Ryan Grant caught five passes for 176 yards, giving him 360 receiving yards in the past two games. Rob Kelley caught a game-high eight passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, and Xavier Rush (five receptions, 96 yards, TD) and Wilson Van Hooser (two receptions, 68 yards, two TDs) were also active in the receiving game.
It took less than three minutes for Rice to score its first touchdown as McHargue capped off a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a nine-yard rushing score.
The Owls got the ball right back after Tulane fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. McHargue capitalize with another touchdown run, this time from 11 yards out, as the road team got off to a fast 14-0 start.
The Green Wave answered midway through the opening quarter as a 35-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Van Hooser cut their deficit in half, 14-7.
Rice's rushing attack continued to do damage early in the second quarter, with Turner Petersen scoring from six yards out. The defense got into the scoring act less than four minutes later, as Gabe Baker picked off a Griffin pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to extend the Owls' advantage to 28-7.
Tulane took some momentum into intermission after Cairo Santos connected on a 57-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the half.
The Owls intercepted Griffin early in the third quarter, but the Green Wave answered by making a huge defensive play as Ryan Travis intercepted a McHargue pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-17.
Rice made up for its miscue on its ensuing possession. A 42-yard pass from McHargue to Luke Willson put the Owls inside the red zone, and Ross capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
The back-and-forth start to the third quarter continued less than a minute later. Griffin struck big with a 68-yard completion to Grant, then Griffin connected with Kelley on a seven-yard score on the very next play as the Green Wave brought their deficit back to 11, 35-24.
Tulane struck with another big play midway through the third quarter when Griffin completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Rush to inch even closer to the Owls.
The Green Wave scored their third straight touchdown later in the third quarter and took their first lead of the game following a one-yard rushing score by Orleans Darkwa.
That lead did not last long however, as Rice answered with a three-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to regain the advantage, 42-38.
Tulane brought the game to within one, 42-41, on a 42-yard field goal off the foot of Santos, but Rice added another touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run from Turner to make it an eight-point game.
In the final minute of regulation, Griffin hooked up with Van Hooser on a 33- yard touchdown strike to make it 49-47. The Green Wave went for the two-point conversion to try and tie the game, but Griffin's pass attempt to Kelley fell incomplete. Rice recovered the ensuing onside kick to wrap up the victory.
The teams combined for 958 yards of total offense, although Tulane gained zero net rushing yards on 14 carries.