JACKSONVILLE – At the end, it was time to hold on.
And on this emotional, nationally televised night, hold on is just what the Jaguars did.
Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne threw for two touchdowns with wide receiver Ace Sanders throwing for another, and the Jaguars held off a second-half rally to beat the Houston Texans 27-20 in front of 60,414 at EverBank Field on Thursday.
The Jaguars improved to 4-9 with their first home victory of the season, and the Texans fell to 2-11 with their 11th consecutive loss.
Texans starting quarterback Case Keenum completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown with an interception before being benched late in the third quarter in favor of Matt Schaub, who had been benched for Keenum earlier this season.
Schaub completed 17 of 29 passes for 198 yards, but Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes intercepted Schaub and returned it to the Houston 21 just before the two-minute warning to secure what was then a four-point Jaguars lead.
Henne completed 12 of 27 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries before leaving with a fourth-quarter hamstring injury. It was Jones-Drew's first 100-yard game of the season.
The Jaguars, winners of four of five games since a Week 9 bye, won a third consecutive game for the first time since midway through the 2010 season, winning at home for the first time this season. The Jaguars entered the game 0-4 this season at EverBank Field, and also lost their designated home game in London.
They were the only team in the NFL that hadn't won at home this season.
A 34-yard field goal by Texans kicker Randy Bullock cut a 10-point Jaguars halftime lead to 17-10 with 8:29 remaining in the third quarter.
The Jaguars stretched the lead to 24-10 with a 21-yard pass from Sanders to running back Jordan Todman with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter but the Texans trimmed it back to seven immediately with a 5-yard pass from Schaub to tight end Garrett Graham.
That made it 24-17, Jaguars entering the fourth quarter, and a 31-yard field goal by Bullock made it a four-point game with 11:31 remaining, setting up a wild finish.
Josh Scobee's 39-yard field goal with :25 remaining pushed the Jaguars lead to seven points three plays after Hayes' interception.
The Jaguars used a wave of emotion to take an early lead, and take control of the game's momentum. They also used a slew of penalties by the Texans.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis, who had his best half of the season in the first half Thursday, capped an impressive opening drive for the Jaguars with a 1-yard touchdown reception. Lewis outfought cornerback Kareem Jackson in the corner of the end zone.
The Jaguars drove 80 yards on 13 plays, with Henne completing three of six passes for 22 yards and also scrambling for a 14-yard gain.
The Jaguars pushed the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter with a four-play, 86-yard drive that ended with Henne's second touchdown pass of the game and fourth in two weeks – a 6-yarder to wide receiver Cecil Shorts III. A 33-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Johnathan Joseph gave the Jaguars a first down at the Texans 12.
The Texans committed 10 penalties for 115 yard in the half, but rallied to cut the Jacksonville lead in half with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to wide receiver Keshawn Martin 1:53 remaining in the half.
The Texans finished with 14 penalties for 177 yards.
The Texans regained possession with a chance to tie late in the second quarter, but Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball intercepted Keenum at the Jaguars 41.
The Jaguars drove to the Texans 22 with the help of a 20 yards in Texans penalties and took a 17-7 halftime lead on Scobee's 40-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the half.
This came just before the two-minute warning. Houston rallied behind a big second-half from Schaub and Johnson and had a chance to drive for the game-winning touchdown. But Hayes intercepted and returned it to the 21, setting up Scobee's 39-yard field goal that pushed the lead to seven.
1.Lewis' first-quarter one-yard touchdown reception was his second touchdown reception in as many games. That's the first time he has had touchdown receptions in back-to-back seasons since his Pro Bowl season of 2010.
2.The Jaguars' opening-drive touchdown drive marked the fourth time in the last five games the Jaguars have scored on their first possession.
3.When the Jaguars took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter with Henne's six-yard touchdown pass to Shorts, it was their largest lead of the season.
4.Sanders' touchdown pass in the third quarter to Todman was the second time in as many weeks the Jaguars had a touchdown pass from a player other than a quarterback. Until last week, it never had happened in the 19-year history of the franchise.
LOOKING ON . . .
1.Sanders continues to be a major factor in the offense after the midway point of the season. He entered the game with 20 receptions for 189 yards in the last three games, and immediately was involved Thursday, catching an 11-yard pass for the Jaguars' first first down. He caught three passes for 26 yards for the game. He then threw a 21-yard touchdown in the second half to Todman.
2.The Jaguars continue to try to create competition on the defensive side of the roster. Winston Guy has worked his way into the rotation at free safety with Josh Evans in the second half of the season, and started in place of the injured rookie Thursday. On Thursday, the Jaguars also got linebackers John Lotulelei and J.T. Thomas early work in place of Russell Allen and Hayes, respectively.
Jones-Drew sustained a fourth-quarter hamstring injury and did not return.
Ball sustained a third-quarter neck injury and did return, while Sanders sustained an ankle injury fielding second-quarter punt and also returned. Safety Chris Prosinski did not return after sustaining a third-quarter head injury.
Evans missed the game after sustaining a shoulder injury against Cleveland last Sunday. Guy started in his place.
Running back Justin Forsett (foot) also missed the game, and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion) missed a fourth consecutive game.
Also inactive for the Jaguars Thursday: defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, guard Jacques McClendon and quarterback Ricky Stanzi.