FORT WORTH, Texas — When Rice freshman quarterback Driphus Jackson was suddenly thrust into action in the Armed Forces Bowl, he drove the Owls within 2 yards of a tying touchdown before his errant pitch.
Jackson more than made up for that miscue that ended the first half.
After starter Taylor McHargue was knocked out the game because of a concussion, Jackson threw for 264 yards with two second-half touchdowns to Jordan Taylor, and Rice beat Air Force 33-14 on Saturday.
“I couldn’t get down (after the fumble). The guys had all the confidence in the world in me,” Jackson said. “Things slowed down for me in the second half.”
Rice (7-6), which had to win four in a row just to get bowl eligible, has won both of its bowl games under sixth-year coach David Bailiff.
“This football team has overcome a lot of adversity and really played well down the stretch,” Bailiff said. “We had a very motivational talk with our team just before the winning streak, and our coaching staff and players worked hard and kept improving every game.”
And this is a Rice team with only seven seniors, three of them tight ends.
The Owls were 1-5 after a loss at Memphis on Oct. 6, and their only loss was 28-24 to Conference USA champion Tulsa.
“We had our ups and downs. To cap it after the start we had, it means the world,” said running back Turner Petersen (nine carries for 81 yards).
Air Force (6-7) scored on consecutive drives in the second quarter with backup quarterback Kale Pearson in the game. But the Falcons had a season-low 214 total yards.