2012 Armed Forces - Rice 33, Air Force 14

Posted Dec 29, 2012

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2012 Armed Forces

Rice vs. Air Force

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central

- CFN Thoughts and Analysis on the Armed Forces Bowl

National Rankings
42nd Total Offense 50th
65th Total Defense 95th
68th Scoring Offense 40th
69th Scoring Defense 87th
2nd Rushing Offense 30th
97th Run Defense 91st
118th Passing Offense 73rd
28th Passing Defense 82nd
109th Turnover Margin 38th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
A   R
3 Quarterbacks 3
4 RBs 3
1.5 Receivers 2
4.5 O Line 3
1.5 D Line 2.5
2 Linebackers 2.5
3 Secondary 2
3 Spec Teams 2.5
4 Coaching 3.5
(AP) 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.

Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)
Dec. 29, 11:45, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Rice and Air Force may look like twins at 6-6, but the schools made it to Fort Worth by way of two very different viaducts.

The Owls are soaring into the Armed Forces Bowl, their first postseason game in four years and just third in the last half-century. On bowl life support after falling to Memphis on Oct. 6, the program has since rallied to a 5-1 finish, losing only at Conference USA champ Tulsa in the waning minutes. It was a pivotal run for not just the kids, but for the staff as well. Before Rice got hot and snapped up one of the league's automatic bowl bids, there was considerable debate whether David Bailiff and his assistants would be back in Houston for a seventh season in 2013.

Although Air Force has qualified for a sixth bowl game in a row under head coach Troy Calhoun, the Academy will be stumbling into Amon G. Carter Stadium.

It's a good thing that the Falcons got fat on marginal competition or else their season would have ended on Nov. 24 with a blowout loss at Fresno State. They've won just once over the last four games, handling 3-9 Hawaii, and fell to rivals Army and Navy in the same year for the first time since 2005. In a rarity, Air Force went 10 consecutive games without a break, last sitting out a weekend on Sept. 15. With a chance to rest, heal and recharge the batteries, it feels as if it can play like the team that nearly shocked Michigan in the Big House in Week 2.

Players to Watch: The Falcons will fly about as far as the combination of QB Connor Dietz and RB Cody Getz will take them.

As is often the case at the Academy, Air Force is ironically ground-oriented, employing a triple-option to rank No.2 nationally in rushing. Getz has rushed for 1,213 yards and nine scores in his debut as a regular. However, almost all of his production came in the first half of the year. An ankle injury hampered the 5-7, 175-pounder, who is going to benefit from a month without contact. By the usual standard at this institution, Getz's arm should not be overlooked. He's thrown eight touchdown passes, while averaging 16.8 yards per completion.

While Air Force relies on just a couple of playmakers, Rice will spread the wealth around.

The pilot of the offense will be QB Taylor McHargue, who can hurt a porous Falcons defense with his arm and his legs. He can hand the ball to either Charles Ross or Turner Petersen, who've helped fuel Conference USA's No. 2 running game. Or he can go to the air to locate one of three 6-5 receivers, Jordan Taylor, Vance McDonald or Luke Willson. Willson is hoping to be close to 100% after missing the last game with an ankle injury. McDonald, a tight end on Sundays, is the only player in this game invited to the Senior Bowl.

In a matchup with a paucity of standout defenders, Rice CB Phillip Gaines jumps out as an exception. But will he get neutralized by an opponent that throws the ball an average of just 10 times a game?

Gaines is tied with Alabama's Dee Milliner for the nation's lead in pass breakups. Against an opponent that runs the option, though, he'll need to be prepared to defend the run. The junior hasn't stuck his nose into traffic too often this season, making just 32 stops, and no more than three in a game since Sept. 29. This week, it'll be all hands on deck in an attempt to slow down a ground assault that can be relentless in its approach.

Rice will win if … PK Chris Boswell spends most of his afternoon kicking off.

In a game that figures to be high-scoring, the Owls must get six points whenever driving deep into Air Force territory. Boswell is a good one, with a booming leg, but three points will be a defeat when a touchdown is available. Rice has to finish its drives, which did not happen in the six games it lost during the regular season. The Owls didn't score less than 33 points in any of their final five victories. They'll have to extend that trend in order to offset the nation's 95th-ranked defensive unit.

Air Force will win if … it consistently converts on third downs.

Only nine teams in America are converting more than 50% of their third-down attempts. Air Force is one of them. However, when the Falcons have struggled in 2012, P David Baska was a very busy man. Long drives serve multiple purposes for the Academy. Not only do they put Getz and Dietz on the doorstep of the end zone, but they'll also wear out mediocre defenses, such as Rice's. Tempo and ball-control are crucial to the success of Calhoun's squad. And the only way that's achieved is if Air Force can churn out a handful of 10-play, five-minute drives.

What Will Happen: Air Force has faded, but a month off has a habit of rebooting a team's mood and mindset.

The Armed Forces Bowl is going to be dictated by the offenses, specifically the ground games. Both teams will move the ball well, producing more than 400 yards of total offense. The Falcons, though, will play with a little something extra to prove after flubbing November. Dietz and Getz will operate with fresh legs, sparking an offense that looked very tired in the final four games. It'll be close, but the Falcons will survive to finish above .500.

CFN Prediction: Air Force 34 … Rice 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Air Force -1 O/U: 61

Armed Forces Bowl History
2011 BYU 24, Tulsa 21
2010 Army 16, SMU 14
2009 Air Force 47, Houston 20
2008 Houston 34, Air Force 28
2007 California 42, Air Force 36
2006 Utah 25, Tulsa 13
2005 Kansas 42, Houston 13
2004 Cincinnati 32, Marshall 14
2003 Boise State 34, TCU 31