Two years ago Texas played Rice for the SouthWest Conference Championship- a show down between two teams that are consistently rated at the top of the conference. Both teams had perfect records and both were hungry for the title.
Rice got the upper hand early by throwing down the first try of the match, but Texas quickly responded. The lead continuously swapped sides, but for every challenge Rice posed, Texas had an answer. The two power-house teams held a tight game that came down to the final minutes.
The unceasing physical play eventually began to debilitate the Owls. Rice couldn’t keep its energy up to hold off the Longhorns in the rucks and fell victim to the powerful Texas pack in the scrums. The Owls’ low intensity coupled with debilitating cramps, gave the Longhorns the opportunity to display their superior endurance. The Longhorns came out one try ahead and one conference title richer than the Owls.
Rice wasn’t satisfied with second best and the next year, when Texas A side played in the ARC, Rice took the SouthWest Conference Championship. Since Texas neglected to play in the SW Conference that year, Rice took the title without contesting against the Longhorns, meaning Rice never got the chance to seek redemption and prove its worth against Texas. But this past Saturday the Owls finally got their shot.
The Longhorns prepared for Saturday’s game based on Rice’s imposing history.
“You always have to expect it to be difficult,” Taylor Hayes said. “All the teams in Texas bring the intensity and they bring the aggression.”
Texas expected another tight game, like the match two years ago, that would come down to who could hang on to fleeting energy the longest. But the game was nothing like the Longhorns expected and everything like how they hoped it would be.
The Longhorns took note from their games last weekend, against SFA and UNT, and came out strong and hard.
“As we know from last weekend, SFA, they were considered the underdog, but they brought the aggression early and we were down 19-0,” Hayes said. “Luckily we pulled out with the win, and today same thing. We came out hard we brought the aggression to them first.”
They drove through Rice’s defensive line to take a three-try lead in the first five minutes.
“This game we definitely pushed them around in the scrums,” Danny Camara said. “We were pushing them around in the rucks and we were carrying the ball pretty hard.”
Rafael Lopez Segovia tacked on the first five points of the game off a maul from a line out. It was a team effort to overpower Rice’s defense to get within arms reach of the try-zone and Rafael who applied the downward motion.
Danny Camara, Taylor Hayes, Reed Hogan and John Boudreaux all followed suit breaking into the try-zone to create a lead Rice had little chance of coming back from. But that didn’t stop the Owls from trying.
Texas loosened up its play in the second half and Rice took advantage while it could, touching down two tries to put a dent in the Longhorns’ lead. But ten points weren’t enough to save Rice from being blown out. Felix Olazaran broke through the Owl’s defense one last time to secure the win for the Longhorns, 42-10.
Although Camara said he “had an alright game,” and Hayes rated his performance as only “a seven or six out of ten,” captain Peter Hyams couldn’t have asked for more from his team in terms of effort.
“I’m really proud of the guys. I think we worked really hard out there,” Hyams said. “We really put in a good shift. First whistle to last whistle we put in 110 percent.”
Texas didn’t let up there. The Longhorns continued the assault with their B-side, scoring four tries by Fernando Chada, Josh Hoffman, Felix Olazaran, and Anthony Moore and three successful conversions by Steven Taylor. Texas B-side demanded a sweep over Rice, and earned it, with a 26-10 victory.
Hyams and the rest of the Longhorns take every game as a learning experience and will work this week to combine their lessons from SFA, UNT and Rice to improve on their mistakes, before facing off against TCU and Texas State at home next weekend.