HOUSTON — Air Force's football season lasted just long enough for fullback Pat Evans, who started the season on the sidelines and ended it Tuesday as his team's most valuable player.
Evans, hobbled during the year by a preseason knee injury, set up one touchdown with a 48-yard run and scored on a 19-yard run to lead the 10th-ranked Falcons to a 24-16 victory over Texas in the 27th Bluebonnet Bowl at Rice Stadium.
Evans said it was his best game of a season that had been marked by frustration.
"I've been struggling all year," he said. "But this put me over the edge and gives me a boost for next year."
Evans, who finished with 129 yards in 18 carries, credited his second best rushing performance to "the center, two guards and tackles. They just kept them (Texas defenders) off me and had holes that a Mack truck could go through. I didn't do anything special."
Evans' previous best was 108 yards against San Diego State.
"He has done the job time and time again for us the last two seasons," Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry said.
The Falcons fulfilled a season-long tendency of capitalizing on their opponents' mistakes.
William Harris caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Bret Stafford, and Jeff Ward kicked field goals of 24, 31 and 28 yards to account for the Texas scoring.
"We had the opportunities but they had the big plays," Harris said. "We didn't take advantage of our opportunities and they did, and that was pretty much the difference."
The Falcons, who won their fourth consecutive bowl game, took a 14-7 halftime lead with a pair of touchdowns over a 1:59 span of the first quarter.
Evans, who missed the first two games of the season, broke 48 yards to the Texas one-yard line to set up Greg Pshsniak's touchdown run, and quarterback Bart Weiss leaped one yard for the go-ahead touchdown moments later. Weiss' touchdown came after Longhorn Lee Beckelman bobbled a kickoff, and Air Force's Marc Munafo recovered at the Texas 32.
Stafford's 52-yard run in the third quarter set up Ward's 24-yard kick, but moments later, Falcon cornerback Tom Rotello's 27-yard interception return paved the way for Evans' 19-yard scoring run.
Ward kicked his 31-yarder with 14:14 left in the game after Air Force safety Scott Thomas batted down a third-down pass at the Falcon 14.
Air Force cornerback Dwan Wilson's 14-yard interception return set up Tom Ruby's 40-yard field goal with 43 seconds left.
The Longhorns (8-4) were trying to erase memories of last year's 55-17 loss to Iowa in the Freedom Bowl. Instead, they extended their bowl losing streak to four.
Air Force closed out its winningest season at 12-1.