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Rice fights back to surprise Charlotte 22-21

The Owls snap a six-game road losing streak and a six-game conference losing skid. 

Rice v Charlotte
Rice’s Alex Lyons and V.J, Banks celebrate after Rice clinched a 22-21 win at Charlotte on Saturday
Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

The result: Rice 22, Charlotte 21 (Saturday in Charlotte)

The records: Rice is 2-8, 1-6 in Conference USA. Charlotte is 4-6, 3-3

The significance: Sometimes it’s just nice to walk off the field with more points than the other team. In the big picture, the win may not mean much. But coming back from a 21-0 deficit shows how the team did not quit in the game or the season. Charlotte is not chopped liver. They’ve beaten decent teams. Therefore, the Owls now have a prideful win to go along with beating FCS foe Prairie View A&M.

The grade: B+ This was the best performance by the Rice defense of the season. Rice held the 49ers to 263 yards, including just 105 yards passing. They also got off the field. Charlotte held the ball for less than 24 minutes and punted seven times. Rice’s offense was choppy at times, but with the game on the line, they move the necessary 71 yards to get the score. If not for some early mistakes, they would have earned an “A.”

The play: Down 21-16, Rice had a 3rd and 7 at the Charlotte 43 with 5:36 left in the game. If Rice didn’t convert, the Owls may have been forced into in all-or-nothing fourth down. It never came to that as Tyler Stehling connected with Zach Wright on 19-yard pass play. Seven plays later – All Stehling runs – Rice took the lead.

The good stat: Rice’s offense converted 9 of 19 third downs and 2 of 3 fourth downs.

The bad stat: Rice had 57 penalty yards.

The X-factor: Tyler Stehling’s ability to run the ball. On a day when Rice’s running backs could not get loose, Stehling rushed for 93 yards and both of the Owls second half touchdowns. On the go-ahead drive, he ran the ball 10 times of the 14 plays.

Rice v Charlotte Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

The Charlotte quote (Coach Brad Lambert): “We had a chance to win the game, and we didn’t win it. We didn’t win it on defense down the stretch, and we didn’t help ourselves by scoring zero points in the second half. No question it hurts.”

The fun fact: This is Rice‘s first ever win in the state of North Carolina. The Owls are now 1-5-1 in the state. They are 0-3 at Duke, 0-2 at East Carolina and tied Wake Forest.

The overall series: Rice 2, Charlotte 0

Rice Game Balls:

1. Emmanuel Ellerbee- 16 tackles, 1 QB hurry

2. Tyler Stehling- 35 of 49 passing for 279 yards, 93 yards rushing, 3 total touchdowns

3. Zach Wright- 12 catches for 111 yards

Up next: Home game vs. UTEP. Kickoff is 11 a.m. CST Saturday.