Army entered Wednesday night’s contest-winning four of their last five games to become bowl eligible. It was the fifth time both schools met, but the first time in 39 years (September 11, 1982), and it felt like the game was worth the wait. On a cold night at Amon G Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, the intensity heated up with a game-winning field goal sending Army to victory 24-22.
Missouri began the night with a touchdown on their opening possession on a quarterback keeper by Brady Cook. The Tigers scored on all four of their first-half possessions; however, their other three after the touchdown resulted in field goals. Army moved inside Missouri’s territory on their first two possessions, but one resulted in a miss field goal. After trailing 10-0, their second score ended with their own quarterback keeper by Christian Anderson. Army, whose notorious for running the ball, ran it for 90 yards in the first half (Mizzou ran for 155), and Army threw one pass in the first half for 42 yards.
“It gives us an opportunity where if we are able to get a score [a touchdown] we’re able to get up a couple of points, it’s a big momentum swing,” Armed Forces Bowl MVP Arik Smith told me when I asked him about holding Missouri to two red-zone field goals in the first half. “After the first one, just getting field goals made a huge difference,”
Army head coach Jeff Monken told me after the game. “Just one of those is a touchdown. We don’t’ win the game. They completely controlled the clock in the first half. [Missouri] was maximizing the opportunities with scores, but I was proud of our defense for knuckling down when it came close, keeping them out of the endzone, and forcing them to get three points.
Army started the second half somewhat balanced (by the Black Knight standards) with three passes and six runs on their first nine plays. Their first drive of the half took eight and a half minutes and seventeen plays capped off with a JaKobi Buchanan touchdown run. After the defense again held Missouri down by stopping them on a fourth and one, Army went on another double-digit play drive that took over six minutes, leading to a Brandon Walters touchdown catch from backup quarterback Tyhier Tyler.
After Army’s defense forced a turnover and both teams punted, Missouri went down the field in ninety seconds to take the lead 22-21 on a touchdown catch by Keke Chism but missed the two-point conversion.
Jabari Lewis came in on the final drive for Army, needing to get into field goal range with 1:11 left. Lewis did just that thanks to a quarterback keeper and a couple of passes. Finally, as time expired, Cole Talley came in to try a 41-yard field goal. Talley’s kick was perfect sealing Army’s victory Wednesday night.
“Going out there, my thought process was I couldn’t stop thinking about everybody and this brotherhood,” Cole Talley said after the game. “They all mean so much to me, and I’d do anything for them, and I know that they do everything for me. I’m just really happy.”
“Proud of the way we fought, had a lot of adversity,” Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said after the game. “A lot of people out, a lot of injuries and even head injuries during the game. Our guys gave everything they had [and] gave us a chance, just came up one play short.”
I’m almost speechless,” Jeff Monken said. “They had a determination in the way they prepared. Our guys did a really good job in their attitude and effort in the last ten days to get ready. We rode the wave and weathered the storm.”
Meanwhile, Army quarterback Christian Anderson left the game in the third quarter. “I’m feeling fine,” Anderson said after the game. [I] tweaked my ankle a little bit, just twisted it. I probably could have gone back out there, but I thought that [Tyhier Tyler] would be a better fit for us.” Army remains undefeated in the Armed Forces Bowl (4-0).