SHREVEPORT, La. — 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 executing."
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.