Air Force beats Georgia Tech at Independence Bowl

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Air Force was struggling to run the ball

and failed to convert a few great opportunities in the passing

game. Instead of growing frustrated and losing focus, the Falcons

kept plugging along.

Their persistence paid off.

Air Force cashed in when Georgia Tech muffed a punt in the

second half of the Independence Bowl, getting a go-ahead touchdown

run from Jared Tew in a 14-7 victory Monday.

"Our discipline really shined in this game," Falcons defensive

tackle Rick Ricketts said. "We liked our game plan going in. It

was pretty straight forward, so it was just a matter of


It was a matchup between the two best rushing teams in the

country, but the game was largely decided by special teams.

Backup kicker Zack Bell converted the first two field-goal

attempts of his career before Tew's 3-yard run gave the Falcons

(9-4) the lead for good. Air Force's only touchdown came four plays

after Daniel McKayhan's second muffed punt of the game - the third

of four Georgia Tech turnovers.

"There's some poise that these guys have," Air Force coach

Troy Calhoun said.

Georgia Tech's 327 yards rushing per game this season edged Air

Force's 317.9 average for the nation's top spot. Both teams use a

heavy dose of option, which often catches opponents off guard

because it's a relatively rare offense.

But with each defense familiar with the scheme, there were no

surprises, and both teams were held under their season rushing

average - Georgia Tech with 279 and Air Force with 170.

Air Force's Tim Jefferson completed 11 of 23 passes for 117

yards. Bell's field goals came from 41 and 42 yards.

Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington rushed for 131 yards and Anthony

Allen added 91 as Georgia Tech outgained Air Force 320-287. But the

Yellow Jackets had three costly fumbles.

Georgia Tech (6-7) came into the game hobbled by injuries,

academic casualties and misbehavior.

Joshua Nesbitt, the ACC's career leading rusher for a

quarterback, missed the game because of a broken right arm. Top

receiver Stephen Hill and starting safety Mario Edwards were among

four players declared ineligible because of various academic


The Yellow Jackets announced Sunday that defensive end Anthony

Egbuniwe and defensive backs Michael Peterson and Louis Young would

miss the first half because of a curfew violation.

Even with all those issues, Georgia Tech probably would have won

if not for the turnovers. Instead, the Yellow Jackets dropped their

sixth consecutive bowl and posted their first losing season in 14


Bell's 42-yard field goal gave Air Force the lead in the first

quarter, but Georgia Tech responded with a 12-play, 69-yard drive

capped by Anthony Allen's 5-yard touchdown run. The clock-chewing

possession was all running plays as the Yellow Jackets ran over and

around the Falcons' defense.

Air Force was much more willing to take shots through the air,

throwing 17 passes in the first half, but couldn't take advantage

of its opportunities. Jonathan Warzeka dropped what looked to be a

sure touchdown pass in the second quarter, and the Falcons couldn't

convert on three fourth-down opportunities in the first half -

including one that was well within field-goal range.

Bell's 41-yard kick as time expired in the second quarter cut

Georgia Tech's lead to 7-6 at halftime.

The Yellow Jackets appeared to take control of the game in the

second half, but a handful of crucial mistakes proved to be too

much for them to overcome.

A nearly nine-minute drive opening the third ended when

Washington fumbled on the Air Force 5. Then McKayhan's muffed punts

- including the one at the Georgia Tech 14 that led to Air Force's

winning touchdown - gave the Falcons terrific field position.

"It was kind of a microcosm of our season," Georgia Tech coach

Paul Johnson said. "It's hard to overcome all those mistakes."

After Tew's scoring run, the Falcons converted the 2-point

conversion on a Warzeka run.

Georgia Tech had one last chance to tie it, but a last-gasp pass

toward the end zone was intercepted by Jon Davis.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)