In a heart stopping Armed Forces Bowl, Army kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Missouri, 24-22. Kicker Cole Talley tied his career-long with a 41-yard effort from the left hash marks to secure the victory. The game-winning drive took just 71 seconds off the clock. The Black Knights were led by fullback Jakobi Buchanan with 68 yards and a touchdown. Three Army quarterbacks completed six of nine passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.
For Army, it represented a rare matchup with the SEC. They hadn’t played an opponent from the conference since 2011. Of the current SEC members, only Vanderbilt and Tennessee had fallen to the Black Knights. Army won yet another Armed Forces Bowl – it was their fourth overall and first since 2018.
Armed Forces Bowl: Key First Half Moments
Brady Cook Steps Up
Missouri was without some primary offensive players in a game they already entered as underdogs. Electric running back Tyler Badie opted out to avoid injury, leaving Missouri without their 1600-yard rusher. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Brady Cook earned the start in the Armed Forces Bowl for the Tigers. However, Cook was undeterred on the opening drive; he made a 14-yard completion to convert an early 3rd and 6. Missouri cruised down the field on the opening drive, and Cook sprinted in from 30 yards out.
Cook finished 13-15 for 117 yards and led the Tigers with 61 rushing yards. He bounced outside for 17 yards at the end of the first half to get Missouri in field goal range. The Missouri rushing attack stepped up without Badie. Alongside Cook, Young ran for 55 first-half yards, and Dawson Downing added 37. Kicker Harrison Mevis made up for Missouri’s inability to finish drives by booting three field goals.
Army Leans On Red Zone Defense To Keep It Close
Army’s offense did not click very well in the first half. However, some tremendous efforts from the Black Knights’ defense kept the score manageable.
On Army’s first possession, they had their way for the majority of their drive. In traditional Army fashion, they ran the ball on every play, converting a fourth down and possessing the ball for over seven minutes. However, the drive stalled, and the Black Knights missed a field goal. Missouri responded by driving deep into Army territory. As they reached 2nd and goal at the Army 1, the Tigers looked poised to take a 14-0 lead. However, the Black Knights hauled down Cook for a three-yard loss. Following that, Army’s defensive star, Andre Carter, came up with a sack, and Missouri settled for a field goal.
The Black Knights harnessed the momentum from the goal-line stand by driving 75 yards for their first score. Quarterback Christian Anderson delivered his first pass attempt of the day on the opening play of the drive. Tyrell Robinson collected the pass for a 42-yard gain. The Black Knights gained the final 33 yards on the ground. Five plays later, Anderson found the end zone from 22 yards out on a keeper.
Army’s red zone defense continued to be a highlight. The Tigers kept the ball for 16 plays and eight minutes on their following drive. They converted a trio of third downs, but the fourth attempt fell short. That led to another chip shot field goal and a 13-7 Missouri lead. On Missouri’s final drive of the half, they got down to the Army 33 with a minute to play. However, Army managed to slow down the Tigers and limit them to a field goal. They almost stopped Missouri completely, but Cook’s 17-yard run got Missouri into Mevis’s range.
Armed Forces Bowl Key 2nd Half Moments
Army Dominates the 3rd Quarter
After a half of looking not like themselves, Army found their groove to start the third quarter of the Armed Forces Bowl. Over a grinding, eight-minute drive, the Black Knights battled 75 yards and punched in their second touchdown of the game. Anderson completed a pair of passes on the drive and skirted 13 yards for a first down into the red zone. Then, the 260-pound Jakobi Buchanan converted a fourth down to set up a first and goal. He followed that up by bulldozing in from seven yards out.
On the following Missouri drive, Army stuffed the Tigers on a fourth down to get the ball in solid field position. They converted an early fourth down around midfield as the seconds ticked down in the quarter. The drive stalled in the red zone and Army took a timeout before a fourth down. Facing 4th and 2, Army lined up and Missouri sold out to stop the run. However, the Black Knights sent out traditional running quarterback Tyhier Tyler and sent him rolling to his right. Tyler found Brandon Walters a 14-yard touchdown.
Army Coughs It Up Late, Still Gets FG
The Tigers looked ready to respond after the Black Knights took the lead. After gaining 35 yards in six plays, Missouri fumbled and Carter recovered. Army didn’t do much with the drive, but they played field position, punting and pinning Cook and Co. at the one-yard-line. Missouri got out of the shadow of their end zone but not much else. Marquel Broughton and Cameron Jones delivered consecutive pass-breakups, and linebacker Arik Smith drilled Cook for a third-down sack. Missouri punted in hopes the defense could get the ball back. They did, setting up camp at their own 18-yard-line with 2:44 to play.
Wide receiver Barrett Bannister made a couple of big catches on the drive, and the Tigers flew down the field. They notched a first and goal from the 7-yard line and converted on their second effort. Chism reeled in the touchdown reception and Missouri claimed a 22-21 lead with 71 seconds to play.
However, Army battled back. They put in a third quarterback, Jabari Laws, to lead the winning drive. He completed two passes for 21 yards and ran three times for 15 yards. The Black Knights drove 51 yards and set up Talley for his game-winning boot.
It ends a successful 9-4 season for Army – their fourth 9-win season in five years under head coach Jeff Monken. The win was also their second Armed Forces bowl win under Monken. Missouri finishes 6-7, and the Tigers are still seeking their first bowl win since 2014.
Main Image courtesy Dallas Morning News