(Thursday, December 31st)
Final Score: Air Force 47, Houston 20
Fort Worth, TX (Sports Network) - Jared Tew rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and Asher Clark added 129 yards on the ground and a pair of scores, as Air Force claimed an easy 47-20 win over Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Tim Jefferson managed the game well, completing 10-of-14 throws for 161 yards and also rushed for a score for Air Force (8-5), which got a measure of revenge from last year's 34-28 loss to the Cougars in this same bowl.
Jonathan Warzeka returned a kickoff 100 yards for another TD for the Falcons, who won four of their last five games to close out the season. Anthony Wright had three interceptions to lead the Air Force defense.
"Just overall we played terrific football today," Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. "If you want to break it down into the three phases, you know, defense, offense, the kicking game, one by one, we really were outstanding. Yet even above that, just the unity, the kind of team chemistry, the esprit that's part of these guys."
Case Keenum finished with 222 yards passing on 24-of-41 completions with a touchdown and six costly interceptions for Houston (10-4), which dropped a 38-32 decision at East Carolina in the Conference USA title game on December 5 and lost three of its last five overall.
"That's a really good Air Force team we played," Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "I think it's evident by, you know, the No. 1 pass defense in the country. Obviously we were a little off. But they had a lot to do with that, too."
Patrick Edwards had a 10-yard TD catch and Tyron Carrier added a 79-yard kickoff return for a score for the Cougars' only touchdowns. Matt Hogan chipped in with a pair of field goals.
Air Force found the end zone on its first two possessions of the game to grab an early 14-0 lead.
First, it was Clark taking a pitch and sprinting down the near sideline for a 36-yard score. Then, after Wright intercepted Keenum at the Falcons' 37-yard line, Tew capped a six-play, 63-yard drive with a six-yard TD run.
Hogan's 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter got Houston on the board. However, the Falcons marched right down the field against the Cougars' cheesecloth defense and punched it in after going 80 yards on 11 plays. Clark again did the honors when he took a triple-option pitch and ran in from 22 yards out with a shade under nine minutes remaining in the half.
Chris Thomas picked off Keenum for the second time of the game on Houston's next offensive set, but the Falcons were unable to capitalize after Erik Soderberg's 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right at the 5 1/2 minute mark.
Hogan answered with a 33-yard field goal on the Cougars' ensuing drive to make it a 21-6 game with 1:21 left in the half. Soderberg, though, split the uprights from 27 yards out as time expired to put Air Force up 24-6 at the break.
The second half started with a bang as Carrier returned the opening kickoff 79-yards for a score, but Warzeka countered for Air Force taking the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a TD as the Falcons went ahead 31-13.
Houston answered right back as Keenum connected with Edwards for a 10-yard score, but Soderberg drilled a 27-yarder to make it a 34-20 contest midway through the third.
In the opening minute of the final quarter, Air Force converted a 4th-and-goal from the one when Jefferson went over the top for the score. The play was upheld after a brief review. Tew added a 71-yard TD run with 3 1/2 minutes to play that put the Falcons up 47-20.
Wright's third interception of the game, this one coming with nearly two minutes remaining, allowed Air Force to run out the clock.
Air Force, which was playing in the Armed Forces Bowl for the third straight year, improved to 2-1 in the all-time series against Houston...The Falcons snapped a three-game Bowl losing streak and improved to 9-10-1 in the postseason...Houston dropped to 8-11-1 in all-time postseason play.
12/31 18:03:41 ET