Elizhah Nezar

 Rice's Elizhah Nezar scored four touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 52-12 win over Rio Vista, including running the opening kickoff back 80 yards for a TD. 

RICE -- A year ago nothing could go right for Rice's Bulldogs, who had to overcome a 0-2 start in 2018.

Talk about flipping the script.

Just look at those Dawgs today.

They're 2-0 and celebrating a 52-12 romp over Rio Vista Friday night at home, where the party started early and no one wanted it to end.

Elizhah Nezar got the night off to a perfect start when he ran the opening kickoff back for an 80-yard touchdown, and Nezar and the Bulldogs just kept coming. By the time it was over Nezar had caught two touchdown passes from Tanner Carlisle worth more than 70 yards and ripped off an 18-yard run for a TD.

That's a four TD night for a kid who can do it all.

Carlisle also threw a 30-yard TD pass to Josh Alsup and Baylor Burkett had a 7-yard run for a touchdown. And just to add to the fun (and what's more fun than seeing a big lineman score a touchdown?) Saul Diaz, a state power-lifter who stars on both sides of the line, picked off a  pass and ran the interception back 60 yards for a touchdown.

Elias Pena  had a big night. The Rice kicker who doesn't use a tee to kick (because he doesn't need one) nailed every extra point and also kicked a 37-yard field goal.

No one is happier about the fast start than Rice coach Andy Mills, who has led his team to the playoffs since he arrived at Rice five years ago.

"This team has lots of potential," Mills said. "We're playing better as a team, but we still have a ways to go.

"We're 2-0 but we've got a team coming up (powerhouse Crawford) that just beat Clifton tonight," he said Friday after the victory.

The Bulldogs were happy to score 52 points, but Mills and defensive coordinator Michael Scott were just as pleased with the defense that was led by linebacker Brian Ovalle and a defensive line that kept the pressure on Rio Vista all night.

"The defense is playing at a different level," Mills said. "We don't have a lot of depth, but our kids are playing well. The secondary played really well and the defensive line put a lot of pressure on their quarterback."

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