PASSING THE TORCH

As Texans honor Johnson, his replacement - DeAndre Hopkins - shows he is pretty good, too

DeAndre Hopkins is a fitting replacement for Andre Johnson. Houston Texans

The Texans honored their greatest receiver on Sunday by inducting Andre Johnson into the Hall of Honor.

After watching that, their current franchise receiver went out and did his best Johnson impression in the second half. DeAndre Hopkins would finish with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Texans 31-21 win over the Cardinals.

The Texans moved to 4-6 on the season with the win, ending a three-game losing streak, but even after Sunday’s result, it seems destined to end as many of Johnson’s did.

Hopkins and to a lesser extent Lamar Miller are the last men standing on the offense, as injuries have taken away Deshaun Watson, William Fuller for much of the season and now D’Onta Foreman.

Hopkins is one of the lone bright spots left in what has been a season of disappointment and critical injuries. After Sunday, he has 62 catches for 879 yards and 9 TDs -- matching Johnson’s career high.

In his career, he is closing in on his third 1,000-yard season in five years in the league. He had 802 as a rookie, and 954 last season, when he often played poorly, did not battle for balls and looked lethargic at times.

This season he has been anything but.

He has fought for balls, made amazing catches, played defense when poor passes could have been intercepted. He has been physical -- often getting called for pass interference, but fighting for every inch. He has been a bright spot in what has become a lost season.

It was fitting that Johnson was honored, because Hopkins came to play on Sunday, with another strong effort, this one coming primarily against the Cardinals’ stud corner, Patrick Peterson. It was another highlight game in what is becoming a strong 2017.

Unfortunately, like many of Johnson’s great seasons, it is likely being wasted. But on Sunday, he played a lot like his predecessor.

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Another win for the Coogs! Photo by Getty Images.

The Cougars were supposed to play a game in Tampa against The University of South Florida on Jan. 14th, but this contest was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the USF program. Houston was able to take advantage of the extra time off to rest their players and prepare for their next game against UCF.

Their previous game against the Knights in Orlando on December 26th was a close matchup which saw UCF and the Cougars tied at halftime. The second half was a back-and-fourth contest between the two teams, but Houston was able to come away with a nine point victory.

This game however was nowhere near as close and their previous meeting.

Houston immediately got off to a 12-0 start thanks to four straight 3-pointers from DeJon Jarreau (2x), Marcus Sasser & Quentin Grimes.

The Cougars continued to surge past the knights and at one point led 38-9 with 3:43 left to go in the contest.

Houston led 45-19 at halftime, their largest first half lead of the season.

The Cougars were able to maintain their commanding lead with both efficient scoring early on and elite level defense. Houston forced UCF to commit 20 turnovers that resulted in 22 points for the Cougars.

The Cougars won most of their games this season with commanding defense, dominating the boards and superior guard play. All three boxes were checked as Houston was able to secure a 75-58 victory.

UCF did outscore Houston in the second half 39-30, but the Cougars' lead proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to overcome for the Knights. Essentially, Houston was on cruse control the second half of the game and never saw their lead drop below double digits.

Grimes scored in double figures for his 11th straight game after opening the season with eight points against Lamar. Senior forward Justin Gorham scored a season high 15 points as well.

Houston has now won its fourth straight game since its loss to Tulsa and now remain in sole position of 1st place in the AAC.

The Cougars moved up from No.11 to the 8th ranked team in the country as multiple top-ranked teams suffered losses over the week.

Kelvin Sampson passed former Houston coach Tom Penders as he earned his 650th career win. This also moves him into sole possession of 41st place on the NCAA wins list. He is also the second winningest coach in Houston Cougars Men's Basketball history behind only the great Guy Lewis.

UP NEXT: Houston looks to exact revenge against the only team to defeat them this season as they host Tulsa at the Fertitta Center on Wednesday at 7pm.

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