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Falcons fall to Owls, 33-14, in Armed Forces Bowl
Senior defensive back Brian Lindsay stuffs Rice running back Charles Ross on a solo tackle during the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 29, 2012. Lindsay ended the game with eight solo tackles and one assist, the third-highest among all Falcon defenders. The Falcons lost to the Owls, 33-14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Chambers)
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Falcons fall to Rice, 33-14, in Armed Forces Bowl

Posted 12/30/2012   Updated 12/30/2012 Email story   Print story


by John Van Winkle
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

12/30/2012 - FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Air Force Academy fell 33-14 to Rice University in the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium Dec. 29.

Rice University used a combination of size, speed and better execution to dominate the second half and end the Falcons season with a loss.

After a few initial three-and-outs, Rice mounted its first sustained drive to score when quarterback Taylor McHargue connected with receiver Jordan Taylor from 16-yards out in the corner of the end zone to go up 7-0.

McHargue would later go with a concussion and not return. Air Force also switched out under center, pulling senior quarterback Connor Dietz in the second quarter in favor of sophomore Kale Pearson, hoping to spark a offense that can stay on the field for more than three consecutive plays.

"We came into the game expecting both guys to play for us at quarterback," said Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun. "Kale played well for us in the second quarter."

Pearson commanded the Falcons' first sustained drive of the game and ended the series with a 9-yard run around the right to tie the game at 7-all.

The Falcons took the lead a few series later when senior running back Wes Cobb dove in from a yard out for the Falcons' second touchdown. Kicker Parker Herrington added the extra point, giving the Falcons a 14-7 lead.

The Owls evened the score before the half and took control of the game from that point on, keeping the Falcons out of the end zone and on their heels for the remainder of the game. Rice would score four times in the second half to mount and sustain a 33-14 lead until time ran out.

"At every single spot, we didn't play well enough in the second half to win a game," said Calhoun.

On offense, the Falcons would end the day converting only four of 14 third downs, and one of two on fourth down. Two critical turnovers in the fourth quarter also killed any chance the Falcons had of mounting a comeback.

"We put an awful lot of strain on our defense," said Calhoun. "Sometimes it was in field position, and sometimes it wasn't getting enough first downs. Sometimes it was in third downs for the other team. When your opponent has 20 third downs, you aren't stopping them enough to give your offense a shot."

Defensively, the Falcons allowed 503 yards of offense, allowing Rice to sustain several long drives and win the time of possession battle by more than 15 minutes.

"It just came down to execution," said senior linebacker Austin Niklas, Air Force's most valuable player for the game.

Size was also an advantage that Rice monopolized. Against Rice's offense and their three wide-receiver set, the Falcons smaller secondary spent the game in their opponent's shadows. Between Rice's two quarterbacks, the Falcons gave up 295 yards in passing offense and had zero interceptions.

"It was a combo of our secondary, our defensive backs, getting beat up, and our pass rush. Rice has a lot better size on the ends and our pass rush just didn't bring it home," said senior linebacker Alex Means.

Rice receiver Jordan Taylor used his 6'5" frame to tower over Falcon defenders and score all three of Rice's touchdowns.

"I wish we had won," Niklas said. "We fought hard the whole game. Rice has a good football team, and we were unable to stop them consistently in the second half. The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl people were great, and we appeciated our time here."

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