Wake Forest 56, Rice 24: Familiar mistakes and bad luck turn Owls' big task into landslide

Photo by Darice Farris

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Only the bluest of Owl fans expected anything other than a loss to Wake Forest, but Rice's afternoon fell apart rapidly in Winston-Salem, and familiar issues only exacerbated the spiral.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

In last week's loss to Southern Miss, two turnovers by Rice quarterback Shawn Stankavage led directly to 14 points for the Golden Eagles. That trend did not improve in North Carolina. This time, Wake Forest turned an interception into a six-play touchdown drive, then returned a fumble for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown. Granted, the mistakes came against an ACC program, but the problem got worse, which is never good. In the Owls' defense, two of the turnovers were "bad bounces" that bounced the wrong way. But ball control is ball control. As we've said before, when so much is stacked against an underdog program like Rice, turnovers are a death sentence.

Worst possible start

Only the first interception was part of a first quarter onslaught that put the game away before Rice could even get in it. That first interception capped a 21-0 first quarter, which Wake Forest quickly followed with another score just after the second quarter began. It was 28-0 before it even really felt like the game got going, and it took until the second half for Rice to gather itself and put together a few drives. Slow starts are also not something the Owls can easily overcome over the following three quarters. 

Second half signs of life

We're all about silver linings, especially since it's clear that Bloomgren has put a spark in the Owls that was sorely needed after last season. After the abysmal first half that found Rice trailing 42-3 at the break, they rebounded to win the second half 21-14. Drives weres sustained, holes were created for running backs, and some big plays were made. Austin Walter finished the game with 165 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries, and the Rice defense forced two turnovers of their own, one of which the Owls turned into points. Those are nice positives to take on the plane ride back to Houston. Even in a loss like this, there are glimpses of what the future might look like.


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