by CFP Staff
December 29, 2012
Freshman quarterback Driphus Jackson threw for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns as Rice beat Air Force 33-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl on the TCU campus at Ft. Worth on Saturday.
In a game that kicked off before 11:00 a.m. CST, Air Force (6-7) was held to a season-low 214 yards. Still, the AFA held a 14-7 lead at halftime with touchdowns on back-to-back 2nd quarter possessions. Backup QB Kale Pearson scored on a 9-yard run and, after Rice starting QB Taylor McHargue fumbled and was knocked out of the game with a concussion, Air Force drove 35 yards in 9 plays to take the lead on Wes Cobb's 1-yard run.
Pearson played most of the game for Air Force after starting QB Connor Dietz graduated since the last regular season game and became commissioned as a second lieutenant. Dietz was on the field for just three series that ended in 1 punt, 1 turnover on downs and 1 fumble. He ran 6 times for 11 yards and completed just 1-of-3 passes for 4 yards.
Against a stingy Rice defense, Pearson couldn't produce much either. He was just 2-of-8 for 44 yards and added a mere 11 yards rushing on 6 attempts.
Rice (7-6) tied the game on the opening possession of the second half on Jackson's 22-yard pass to Jordan Taylor and the fourth quarter was all Rice.
A Charles Ross 2-yard run and Jackson's second TD toss to Taylor for 34 yards, were sandwiched around a pair of Chris Boswell field goals from 23 and 25 yards while Air Force drives ended with a pair of punts and an interception. The Falcons punted on 5-of-6 second half possessions and gained just 2 first downs. They also fumbled the final kickoff return.
The win boosted Rice's bowl record to 6-4 as the Owls picked up consecutive bowl victories (2008 and 2012) for the first time since 1960 and 1961. The Owls won 6 of their last 7 games, including 5 in-a-row to end the year.
The Falcons lost for the fourth time in their last 5 games to end below .500 at 6-7 for their first losing season since 2006. And while the Air Force has made a school record 6 straight bowl appearances under under Troy Calhoun, it has only won two of those games.
This was the fourth appearance in six years for Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com gave Rice a 4.11-point advantage in the first meeting between the two teams since 1998 when both schools were in a 16-team WAC. It was Rice's first win in the series since 1986 and they still trail the series 5 games to 2.