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Clement, Dillard lead Rice past SMU, 56-27

HOUSTON (AP) -It was Rice that put up the big numbers in the debut of June Jones' run-and-shoot offense at SMU.

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Chase Clement threw six touchdown passes - three to Jarett Dillard - to lead the Owls to a 56-27 victory over the Mustangs on Friday night.

After leading Hawaii to a 12-1 record and a berth in the Sugar Bowl last season, Jones failed to get a win in Game No. 1 with SMU.

``They are good,'' Jones said, referring to the Rice offense. ``They have been doing that for a year and they really exposed us. They have a nice scheme, but we have to play better, do what we are supposed to do and just play better everywhere.''

Clement was 24-of-37 for 258 yards, helping the Owls overcome an early 13-point deficit. Clement added 87 yards rushing on 13 carries as the Owls (1-0, 1-0 Conference USA) won their first season-opening conference game since 2001.

Dillard caught seven passes for 89 yards, including scores of 21, 9 and 8 yards. James Casey, Patrick Randolph and Corbin Smiter all caught a touchdown pass from Clement.

``We played a full game tonight,'' said Dillard, who continued his streak of making at least two catches in every game of his career. ``I think that is the first full game that I have been a part of at Rice. With Patrick Randolph and Corbin Smiter each getting their first touchdowns, that really made my job easier tonight.''

The Owls defense also got in on the act, as Andrew Sendejo returned an interception of Bo Levi Mitchell 55 yards for a touchdown. Rice forced two fumbles and had three interceptions.

``The defense made some real big plays tonight to put some points on the board,'' Sendejo said.

Mitchell, a true freshman, was 25-of-43 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. He helped the Mustangs (0-1, 0-1) to a 13-0 lead in the first 13 minutes, hitting Aldrick Robinson and Bradley Haynes with 26-and 19-yard touchdown passes.

But the Owls scored 14 points in the last 52 seconds of the first quarter to take a 14-13 lead. Clement hit Casey with 52 seconds left and added a 35-yard score when he connected with Randolph as time expired in the first quarter.

``Instead of hitting the panic button tonight, we shifted gears,'' Rice coach David Bailiff said.

Mitchell hit Emmanuel Sanders with a 22-yard touchdown on the third play of the second half to make it 28-20, but that was as close as the Mustangs would get. The Owls added three scores in the next 97 seconds to take a 49-20 lead.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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