The win was the first for rookie coach Justin Fuente.
Mathews’ strike—an 11-yarder to Alan Cross—put the Tigers (1-4, 1-0) ahead for the first time in the game. Mathews, a transfer from Blinn College in Texas, alternated with Jacob Karam under center, and was 1-of-2 passing in the game.
Mathews’ score was preceded by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Karam to Kelwone Malone.
Rice (1-5, 0-3) led 10-0 at halftime. Phillip Gaines recovered a fumble on Memphis’ first offensive play and returned it 12 yards for an Owl touchdown. Then Chris Boswell’s 36-yard field goal extended the lead.
Playing through heavy rain for much of the game, neither team had more than 245 yards total offense, with Memphis amassing just 81 passing yards.