Bowl roundup: Syracuse, Rice win
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | December 30,2012
Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson (6) evades Air Force linebacker Austin Niklas (42) on the keeper during the second half of the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday.
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.
West Virginia 14
NEW YORK — Prince-Tyson Gulley ran for 217 yards and had three touchdowns, Syracuse scored twice on safeties and the Orange bid a snow-covered farewell to the Big East with a 38-14 victory over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday.
Syracuse (8-5) will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on a roll after finishing this season with six wins in its last seven games, capped by its second postseason victory at Yankee Stadium in the last three years.
In a bowl game played in a baseball stadium with weather better suited for a playoff game in Green Bay, the team that plays in a dome ended up being better equipped to handle the elements.
The Orange leaned on their running game to plow through former Big East rival West Virginia (7-6) and the snow. Jerome Smith added 158 yards rushing.
Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for two touchdown passes, but the Mountaineers’ quarterback also was sacked in the end zone in the first half and called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the second half as he tried to avoid another sack.
Smith, who was an early Heisman Trophy front-runner as the Mountaineers got off to a 5-0 start this season, was 18 for 26 for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career. The NFL awaits.
Same goes for Ryan Nassib, though Syracuse didn’t ask much of its talented senior quarterback. He threw two touchdown passes and an interception. His most impressive feat on this day was surviving being driven into the frozen turf by Terence Garvin on a sack in the first half. Nassib missed only one play.
Snow fell just about all game, giving most of the field a white dusting. Fans were bundled and players not in the game tried to do the same. It took a while for those potent offenses — both ranked in the top 25 nationally in yards per game — to heat up, which seemed appropriate considering the conditions.
A goal-line stand by West Virginia in the second quarter kept Syracuse out of the end zone, but set up the Orange for a scoring run.
Left at their own 1, the Mountaineers tried to pass out of their end zone, but Smith was smothered by blitzing linebackers Cameron Lynch and Siriki Diabate for a safety to make it 5-0 — a baseball score, of course.
The Orange followed that up with a 33-yard touchdown run by Gulley to make it 12-0 with 6:07 left in the second.
The Mountaineers responded with their first sustained drive and Bailey took a quick pass, darted and broke tackles, and scooted 32 yards to the end zone to make it 12-7.
The Orange extended the lead to 12 points with a touchdown drive to start the second half when the Orange caught a break — and touchdown pass. Nassib’s throw was tipped around the goal line, but floated safely into the waiting arms of intended receiver Beckett Wales for an 11-yard score.
West Virginia appeared to answer with a touchdown of its own, when Andrew Buie broke free for a TD run on fourth-and-2. Not so fast. A holding call on the Mountaineers wiped out the play and sent coach Dana Holgorsen on to the field screaming at the officials.
It didn’t help. Instead of a touchdown, a punt.
Moments later another close call, this time on a fumble by Smith which was reviewed to determine if it was an incomplete pass, went Syracuse’s way, and again the Orange capitalized.
On the next play, Gulley broke through the line bounced to the outside and went 67 yards for a touchdown to make it 26-7 with 6:52 left in the third.
West Virginia wouldn’t let Syracuse pull away. Smith found Bailey deep down the sideline beating one-on-one coverage for a 29-yard score 1:11 later.
Right back came the Orange, nine plays, 70 yards, with Gulley taking a swing pass from Nassib 10 yards for his third touchdown of the day.
A minute and half later, Brandon Sharpe was taking down Smith in the end zone, when the quarterback made a futile attempt to dump the pass off. The officials dropped the flag and the second safety of the day made it 35-14 with 1:08 left in the third.The 60th meeting between these teams, but first in a bowl, ended up being a romp in the snow for Syracuse.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap