Thursday, December 31, 2009

Air force beats cougars

FORT WORTH — UH quarterback Case Keenum may want to simply forget any notions of entering next year's NFL draft.

His performance against Air Force in Thursday's Armed Forces Bowl might have sent his draft stock plummeting.

Keenum tossed a career-high six interceptions, and the Cougars' defense was unable to stop Air Force's powerful rushing attack en route to a crushing 47-20 loss before a crowd of 41,414 at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium.

The Cougars (10-4) missed out on their chance at the program's first 11-win season since 1979 and an opportunity to finish the season in The Associated Press Top 25.

Air Force finished the season 8-5 and avenged a 34-28 loss to UH in last year's Armed Forces Bowl.

The Falcons simply ran over the Cougars, rushing for 400 yards en route to setting an Armed Forces Bowl record for points scored. Running backs Jared Tew and Asher Clark, who was named MVP for Air Force, each rush 100-plus yards and two touchdowns.

The Cougars produced one of their lowest offensive outputs of the season. Keenum completed 24 of 41 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown. The Cougars were held to 109 rushing yards.

UH trailed 24-6 at halftime, but received a spark when wide receiver Tyron Carrier, who was named the MVP for UH, returned the second half's opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown to reduce the deficit to 24-13.

However, Air Force responded in similar fashion when Jonathan Warzeka returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to up the Falcons' lead to 31-13.

The route was on from there, as the Cougars never recovered.

Air Force struck early and often in the first half.

The Falcons opened the game with a six-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Clark's 36-yard touchdown run on a option play to the right side.

The Cougars' first drive stalled when Keenum's first pass was deflected off the leg of wide receiver James Cleveland and intercepted by Anthony Wright.

The Falcons quickly capitalized on the miscue. Quarterback Tim Jefferson (10-of-14 passing, 162 yards, one rushing TD) orchestrated a six-play, 63-yard drive that ended with Tew's 6-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with 8:52 left in the first quarter.

The Cougars got their first score when Matt Hogan connected on a 33-yard field goal with 14:51 remaining in the second quarter.

But Air Force wasn't done.

Jefferson led the Falcons on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Clark's 22-yard touchdown run. Clark's score upped the Falcons lead to 21-3 with 8:55 left in the second quarter.

Keenum, who was intercepted three times in the first half, found a rhythm on the ensuing drive. He completed five of six passes for 60 yards, getting the Cougars as far as the Air Force 16 before the drive stalled. UH settled for a 33-yard field goal from Hogan with 1:21 left in the first half.

Air Force made things interesting on the next drive by getting as far as the UH 2 with 17 seconds remaining. Jefferson was dropped for an 8-yard'loss on the ensuing play, but the Falcons' field goal unit manage to line up with just enough time to allow Erik Soderberg to hit a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

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