The college bowl season kicked off in earnest last week, and on Saturday both Navy and Air Force were in action. While the two service academies, who are no strangers to post-season bowl games, put together good seasons, neither could finish theirs off with a victory.
Air Force falls
After a 6-6 regular season, the Falcons were invited to participate in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against an upstart Rice Owls team from Conference USA. Despite some early back-and-forth action, Rice eventually pulled away to bring home the title with a 33-14 victory.
Rice was paced by freshman quarterback Driphus Jackson, who was thrust into the spotlight after the Owls' starting quarterback went down with an injury. He was up to the challenge, however, finishing the game with 264 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the loss, Air Force was not without its own standout performers. Senior running back Wes Cobb ran for 39 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore quarterback Kale Pearson ran for one of his own.
"We really struggled. We had a good second quarter," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told The Associated Press. "But there's no way you win this game playing well in one quarter."
Air Force has been among the most consistent football teams in the country over the last several years. Their appearance in 2012 marked the sixth straight season the Falcons earned a bowl berth, a streak that has included victories in 2009 and 2010.
Navy stumbles in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
The Midshipmen may have captured the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy when they beat Army, but they were not quite as lucky against Arizona State. The Sun Devils ran all over Navy and came away with a statement 62-28 victory.
Arizona State scored early and often to jump out to a quick 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. At halftime, the final result was never much in question, with the Sun Devils winning 34-7. Leading the charge was wide receiver Rashad Ross, who finished with 139 receiving yards and three touchdown catches.
Unfortunately, there were few highlights for Navy, mainly the stunning 95-yard kickoff return by Gee Gee Greene in the second half. The Midshipmen do have reason to be optimistic, however, as standout freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds will be returning next year.