The Governor's Cup is headed to Houston.
In a game that looked like, well, the last game of the preseason, the Texans earned the symbolic trophy – given to the winner of the state's bragging rights – with a 24-6 victory in front of 76,856 fans.
With the starters for both teams resting comfortably on the sidelines as expected, the Cowboys' backups and those fighting for the final few roster spots took center stage. And throughout the night, the team struggled, particularly the young defense.
At times, Houston could seemingly run the ball at will, the only thing slowing them down being the Texans themselves as penalties and a fumble thwarted first-half drives. In all, the visitors rushed for 190 yards, which doesn't include a 49-yard rumble by Cierre Wood that was brought back after a holding penalty.
Not that the Cowboys offense could muster much on their side of the ball either. Kyle Orton lined up behind center for the first series, but after that, Alex Tanney took the reins and finished with 177 yards passing, the team overall posting 219 yards of total offense, compared to 427 for the Texans.
Wide receiver Tim Benford managed to haul in four catches for a team-high 60 yards, while rookie tight end Gavin Escobar added five grabs for another 29 yards. On the ground, first-year back Joseph Randle led the squad with 47 yards on 10 carries.
Houston wasted little time getting on the board, as on their first possession of the game they drove 87 yards on six plays, the big blows coming when running back Dennis Johnson went around the left end for 29 yards, which was followed two plays later by Wood sprinting around the same side for a big 41-yard gain. The drive ended when Johnson drove up the middle from 5 yards out to give Houston a 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys finally found a bit of a spark in the second quarter, with Tanney driving 60 yards to set up Dan Bailey for a 38-yard field goal. But the Texans quickly answered, quarterback Case Keenum lofting a pass to receiver Lestar Jean in the back corner of the end zone for a 27-yard connection to up the advantage to 14-3 at the half.
Which quickly became 17-3 once the third quarter got underway. The Texans first play from scrimmage saw Johnson again break loose for 29 yards on the ground, the visitors eventually getting a 39-yard field goal from Randy Bullock. [embedded_ad]
Much like the rest of the game, Dallas struggled to do much of anything the rest of the way. Houston added one more touchdown as the clock turned over to the fourth quarter, quarterback Tyler Yates connecting with wideout Andy Cruz on a 21-yard pass.
The Cowboys then entered enemy territory one last time, but with Tanney scrambling for his life – he was sacked three times during the possession with another one being waved off after a facemask call – the team had to settle for another Bailey field goal, this time from 39-yards out, to wrap up the scoring, 24-6.
Head coach Jason Garrett and his staff now has two days to make final decisions on the team, the cut to the final 53 on the roster coming on Saturday. Dallas will then have a week to prepare for their season opener, when they host the Giants at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 8.