Ellis County players face each other in the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
The Ellis County Press
Of the 44,358 tickets sold, 40,127 fans were in-house at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, home to the TCU Horned Frogs, New Years’ Eve to watch the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. If all who purchased tickets had shown, it would have set a new bowl attendance record, but instead ranks second behind last year audience of 40,905. Now in its sixth year, the bowl has seen its third name change. The bowl was formerly titled the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl in 2003 and 2004 and the Fort Worth Bowl in 2005. Bell Helicopter agreed to be the title sponsor in August 2006 making the official name the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The name will stay the same at least another year as Bell announced a renewal to sponsor the 2009 bowl game as well.
The bowl paired the University of Houston, 7-5 on the season, from Conference USA against the Mountain West’s Air Force Academy with a season record of 8-4. The pregame festivities were highlighted by four members of the Air Force’s paratrooper squad who "dropped in" to deliver the game ball. As if that wasn’t entertaining enough, the paratroopers were followed by fly-overs by a B52 bomber and two F16s stationed at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.
Both teams came in with exactly 18 bowl games each. The Air Force had a record of 8-9-1 and Houston 7-10-1. Three of the 18 bowl games the Air Force has participated in have been in Texas with their last in 2007 at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Cal. The Cougars were out to break an eight game bowl losing streak after losing the Texas Bowl in 2007 to TCU 20-13.
Houston and the AFA last met on Sept. 13, 2008 at SMU in Dallas due to Hurricane Ike affecting the South Texas coast. In that match-up, Air Force won 31-28 despite completing none of seven attempted passes. Instead the Air Force relied on 380 rushing yards to defeat Houston. The Falcons led 31-7 late in the third quarter until Houston quarterback Case Keenum helped Houston score 28 unanswered points while passing for 362 yards and completing three of his four touchdowns passes in the last 20 minutes of play. This second meeting of the two teams would turn out differently.
The re-match-up between Houston and the Air Force Academy also meant the re-match-up of two former Ellis County high school stars. Houston offensive lineman Jordan Shoemaker (Midlothian) and AFA offensive tackle Chris Campbell (Waxahachie) faced each other again on the college stage. After sitting out his true freshman year as a redshirt, Midlothian native Jordan Shoemaker appeared in nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2007 debuting against conference rival Tulane. While at Midlothian he was named Team MVP along with being picked as the Top Team Offensive Lineman. His high school football highlights also included First-Team All-District honors as both an offensive and defensive lineman.
On the other side of the ball was Waxahachie High School graduate and Air Force right tackle Chris Campbell. A high school track and football letterman, Campbell also garnered first-team all-district honors his junior and senior years. He started two games at right tackle last season against New Mexico and Navy and appeared in a total of nine games. Campbell played a major part in an offensive line that led to 299.5 rushing yards per game for the Falcons, a number good enough to be ranked second in the nation and first in the Mountain West Conference.
Houston wasted no time getting on the board with a Bryce Beall one yard touchdown run to go up 7-0 with 13:27 left. Beall would later be named Houston’s MVP of the game.
The Air Force answered right back two minutes later with a two yard touchdown run by Jared Tew, the eventual Air Force MVP of the game. A one yard quarterback keeper from Houston’s Case Keenum and a 22-yard field goal with 0:22 left in the quarter increased the Cougars lead to 17-7. The Houston offense wavered slightly in the second quarter and the defense was not able to keep the Air Force from scoring. AFA quarterback Tim Jefferson scored a five yard touchdown with 9:52 left and the Air Force added three more points with a 44-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-17 going into halftime.
Keenum scored another touchdown in the third while the Air Force had to settle for a 37-yard field goal ending the quarter with a score of 24-20. The Cougars and Falcons traded off touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but a 37-yard field goal with 3:24 left in the game sealed the victory for Houston, 34-28.