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Houston's defense makes 2 big plays late in win over Rice

HOUSTON (AP) — Nelson Ceaser returned a fumble for an 11-yard score with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter and Thabo Mwaniki intercepted a tipped pass on the next possession as Houston beat Rice 34-27 on Saturday to retain the Bayou Bucket for a record seventh consecutive time.

Houston pinned Rice at its 6-yard line with 24 seconds left. The Owls made two catches to get to their 40 before clocking it at eight seconds. TJ McMahon launched it, Bradley Rozner came down with the ball in traffic at the Houston 9 and the officials ruled there was one second left.

Rice had no timeouts remaining but Houston took one to set up its defense. McMahon was pressured into a rushed pass and it was batted down in the end zone.

Nathaniel Dell sparked the Houston (2-2) offense with seven catches for 134 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown. Clayton Tune was 19-of-26 passing for 249 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ta’Zhawn Henry added 17 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown.

McMahon passed for 334 yards with one touchdown and one interception for Rice (2-2). Rozner had 123 yards receiving and Luke McCaffrey caught seven passes for 121 yards, including a 52-yard TD.

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