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Air Force rallies to beat Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:31 a.m. HST, Nov 17, 2012

Hawaii quarterback Jeremy Higgins began tonight's Mountain West Conference football game with a touchdown drive, but ended on the bench as the Air Force Academy rallied to beat the Warriors 21-7 at chilly Falcon Stadium.

The loss dropped Hawaii to 1-9 for the season and 0-7 in MWC play. Air Force is 6-5 overall and 5-2 in league action. The Falcons will play in a bowl game for a school record sixth consecutive season. Hawaii comes home with an eight-game losing streak. The Warriors finish out the forgettable 2012 campaign with games against UNLV and South Alabama.

Tied 7-7 at the half, the Falcons forced a three and out on UH's opening series of the third quarter, then quickly moved into the red zone on a 55-yard run by Cody Getz, who raced up the middle of the UH defense.

Facing a third and goal at the UH 5, Getz bounced off UH defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau, who failed to wrap up on the play. The score gave the home team its first lead of the night, 14-7 with 10:43 left in the third. Parker Herrington added his second PAT.

Fellow UH defensive back Charles Clay tried to make up for Hardy-Tuliau's mistake, recovering a fumble by Air Force on a punt return after Hawaii had another three and out. The Warriors quickly gave it back, as Joey Iosefa fumbled on a third-down screen pass that would have been a touchdown had he not coughed it up. It was his second of the game.

The Falcons extended the lead on a 2-yard scoring run by Wes Cobb with 34 seconds left in the third quarter. Herrington added the PAT to make it 21-7 Air Force. It was Cobb's second touchdown of the night.

Hawaii forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter and head coach Norm Chow decided to put Sean Schroeder into the game, but he was unable to do much, Air Force stopping Hawaii on a fourth-and-2 play in Air Force territory.

Late in the fourth, Scott Harding's 31-yard punt return gave Hawaii the ball on the Air Force side of the 50, still without a first down in the second half. Schroeder did his best to get Hawaii moving, but continued to struggle, as Hawaii had 41 yards on 26 plays after intermission. Schroeder came up just short of a first on a fourth-down scramble. Air Force got the ball back and ran out the clock.

Higgins got Hawaii off to a fast start, as the Warriors scored on their opening drive. After the UH defense forced the Falcons to punt on their first series, Higgins led UH on a crisp 10-play, 61-yard journey that culminated with a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Clark Evans. Tyler Hadden added the PAT to make it 7-0 with 6:39 left in the first quarter.

It was the first time Hawaii scored on an opening drive this season. In the Warriors' previous nine games, they had eight punts and an interception. But after that, Higgins struggled against an Air Force defense that just missed several interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Falcons finally put a drive together to tie it at 7-7 with 12:13 left in the half. The Falcons drove 60 yards on 12 plays and Cobb scored from 2 yards out. Herrington added the PAT for the Falcons.

The Hawaii defense held Air Force on a fourth-and-1 play near midfield, giving Higgins excellent field position late in the first half. A pass interference penalty gave the Warriors the ball at the Air Force 34, but a big sack of Higgins pushed Hawaii out of field-goal range.

The Warriors got one last chance before the half, starting a drive at their own 30 with 51 seconds remaining and no timeouts, but it produced no points as Hadden missed a 60-yard field-goal attempt way short even at altitude.

Air Force did not throw a single pass, the first time that has happened in a Division I game since Navy in 2009.

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