Rice wins Armed Forces Bowl, 33-14 over Air Force
Rice head coach Troy Calhoun is drenched in water by defensive end Jared Williams (97) after the end of the Armed Forces Bowl NCAA college football game against Air Force, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas. Rice won 33-14. (AP / LM Otero)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, December 29, 2012 4:12PM EST
FORT WORTH, Texas — Freshman quarterback Driphus Jackson threw for 264 yards in relief of Rice's hurt starter, including two touchdown passes to Jordan Taylor, and the Owls beat Air Force 33-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday.
Jackson's first series after taking over for Taylor McHargue ended with a bad pitch for a fumble near the goal line only 2 seconds before halftime, when the Owls (7-6) trailed 14-7.
But Jackson made up for it after halftime, when Rice scored 26 unanswered points. Taylor caught nine passes for 153 yards, with a 16-yard TD from McHargue in the first quarter.
McHargue never returned because of an apparent head injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision with about 5 minutes left in the first half.
Air Force (6-7), which scored on consecutive drives in the second quarter with backup quarterback Kale Pearson in the game, was held to a season-low 214 total yards.
On Rice's opening drive of the second half, Jackson had consecutive completions of 25 and 22 yards before a 2-yard keeper and then a 22-yard TD to Taylor.
The Owls went ahead to stay when Jackson had six consecutive completions for 75 yards to set up Charles Ross' 2-yard TD run on the second play of the fourth quarter for a 21-14 lead.
Jackson, who started one game during the season when McHargue was dealing with a shoulder problem, completed 15 of 21 passes and ran 13 times for 32 yards.
Rice has won both of its bowl appearances under sixth-year coach David Bailiff. Before that, the Owls had lost the only four bowl games they had played since winning the 1954 Cotton Bowl.
McHargue was hurt at the end of a 5-yard keeper, when he put his head down and ran into defensive back Steffon Batts. The ball dropped between the quarterback's legs and was recovered by Air Force. After staying down for several minutes, McHargue was noticeably wobbly while being helped to the sideline.
The Falcons then went 35 yards in nine plays for a 14-7 lead with 2:36 left in the half. Mike DeWitt converted fourth-and-1 from the 26 with a 2-yard run and Cobb scored after three consecutive carries from the 6.
Jackson then came in for the Owls and had keepers of 5 and 14 yards before a 23-yard pass to Taylor. After another 10-yard pass for first-and-goal from the 2, Jackson had a bad pitch behind his running back that was recovered by defensive back Chris Miller.
McHargue hit 6 of 8 passes for 31 yards, including the TD to Taylor. The junior quarterback returned to the sideline after halftime wearing a warmup suit and a cap.
Since the Falcons' last game, senior quarterback Connor Dietz has graduated from the academy and been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Dietz was banged up late in the season and was mostly ineffective in his last game, running six times for 11 yards and completing only 1 of 3 passes.
Pearson wasn't must better, 2-of-8 passing for 44 yards with six carries for 11 yards. But he was on the field for both of Air Force's scoring drives and had a 9-yard TD run
The Falcons have made a school-record six consecutive bowl appearances under coach Troy Calhoun, but are 2-4 in those games. That includes a 1-3 mark in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Linebacker Austin Niklas had 14 tackles and Alex Means 12 for Air Force, which lost four of its last five games to finish this season.
Chris Boswell made field goals of 24 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter, before Jackson hit Taylor for a final 34-yard TD with 1:38 left.
Boswell, who made six field goals of at least 50 yards during the regular season, had apparently made a 52-yarder early in the second quarter before officials blew the whistle for an Air Force timeout. Boswell got another try, but pushed it wide right with about 9 minutes left in the first half.
That's when Pearson took over for Air Force, leading them 66 yards in 10 plays. He had a 15-yard pass and ended the drive with a wide sweeping run to get into the front corner of the end zone to tie the game at 7.