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Volume 68, Issue 20, Monday, September 23, 2002


UH can't catch up to No. 3 Longhorns

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

It could have been worse. That was the message hanging in the air after the Houston Cougars lost to Texas, 41-11, in Austin on Saturday.

Head coach Dana Dimel couldn't have been pleased with the outcome of the game, but his team's effort must have been a welcome sight. It fought to get the game closer than a 31-3 halftime deficit, even though a superior Texas squad eventually put the game away.

Texas began the scoring with two touchdowns in the first quarter, both coming on lengthy drives. The second touchdown came off a fake field goal that holder Beau Trahan ran in 24 yards for a touchdown.

Freshman defensive back Roshawn Pope attempts to get in the right frame of mind before UH's 41-11 loss to Texas on Saturday.

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars came back when Victor Malone intercepted Texas quarterback Chris Simms and ran the ball deep into Texas territory. The Cougars stalled, but sophomore kicker Dustin Bell kicked a field goal. Bell has now made all seven of his field goal attempts and seven of eight extra points.

A 10-play, 61-yard drive in the fourth quarter resulted in Houston's only touchdown of the game when junior quarterback Nick Eddy scored on a quarterback keeper from one yard out. On the two-point conversion, junior wide receiver Brandon Middleton was left uncovered and scored easily on a short pass, making the score 31-11, the closest it would be in the second half.

Texas scored 10 more points in the fourth quarter, a touchdown coming off an Eddy pass that was tipped and intercepted. Longhorn safety Michael Huff ran the interception in for a touchdown.

The Cougars came into the game knowing they needed to be successful in a number of areas to have a chance against the No. 3 Longhorns. Houston needed to run the ball well, have about half the time of possession, stop Longhorn running back Cedric Benson and win the turnover battle.

The Cougars got just 31 yards rushing on 23 attempts; the Longhorns had 233 yards on 52 attempts. The Cougars had the ball for 20:17, Texas for 39:43. Benson had 160 yards (though it took him a career-high 37 carries).

The Cougars did win the turnover battle, scooping up two fumble recoveries and a 57-yard return by Victor Malone on an interception of Texas quarterback Chris Simms. The Cougars threw two interceptions, including one late in the game that resulted in the final Texas touchdown.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Barrick Nealy, suffering from a knee injury sustained against Louisiana-Lafayette, was ineffective. Nealy left the game after only three plays, one of them a seven-yard run after which he came up limping. Nealy had also looked slow and tentative in pre-game warmups. Nealy came back into the game, but struggled, going just 4-of-7 for 18 yards.

Eddy came into the game in relief of Nealy, and led the Cougars to their only touchdown of the game. Eddy finished 10-20 for 103 yards with one interception.

Dana Dimel tried to downplay any quarterback controversy, saying that if Nealy is healthy he will be the Cougars' starting quarterback.

"It's a quandary. Barrick's a great talent," Dimel said. "I don't want to even address that. I am going to go with Barrick."

The Cougars have a week off to nurse some injuries and prepare for a trip to Fort Worth to face Conference USA rival Texas Christian. The Horned Frogs beat Houston 34-17 at Robertson Stadium last year.

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