HOUSTON (Sports Network) - Sophomore running back Tre' Newton rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, as the fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns bounced back from a slow start to defeat the Rice Owls, 34-17, in the season opener for both schools.
Newton rushed for 61 yards on 18 carries for the Longhorns (1-0), fresh off yet another Big 12 Conference title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game, which it lost to Alabama (37-21).
Sophomore Garrett Gilbert started the post-Colt McCoy era, connecting on 14- of-23 passes for 172 yards. Malcolm Williams caught four passes for 77 yards.
Taylor McHargue completed 6-of-11 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown, and an interception for the Owls (0-1), who went just 2-10 last year. Randy Kitchens caught a TD pass and Charles Ross ran for a score.
Rice put together an impressive 14-play drive to begin the game. The Owls got down to the 13 of Texas, but a sack on third down forced the field goal unit to come on. Chris Boswell made a 42-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
The Longhorns responded with a long drive of their own, but it resulted in zero points. Faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the one, Cody Johnson was stuffed at the line for no gain. Johnson lost four yards on fourth down for a turnover on downs.
McHargue was picked off by Keenan Robinson just two plays into Rice's ensuing possession. On the first play of the second quarter, Justin Tucker made a 51- yard field goal to tie the contest.
The Owls marched down the field before Boswell failed to make a 48-yarder. That proved to be a turning point in the game, as Texas put together a nine- play, 69-yard drive. Newton capped it with a one-yard TD run for a 10-3 Longhorns lead.
McHargue fumbled while being sacked on Rice's ensuing drive. Robinson picked up the loose ball and ran 11 yards into the end zone. Newton added a two-yard rushing touchdown on Texas' next drive to make it a 24-3 game.
The Owls were able to record a touchdown right before the half when Kitchens hauled in a deflected pass for a 47-yard score. The play was reviewed and upheld, making it 24-10 at the break.
Tucker missed a pair of field goals in the third frame, but Newton scored on a one-yard run to make it 31-10 heading to the fourth.
A 26-yard Tucker field goal midway through the fourth quarter extended Texas' margin to 34-10. Ross added a TD late for Rice to account for the final score.