After the Independence Bowl was canceled, it took Tennessee dropping out of the Liberty Bowl for Army to finally get a bowl invite this postseason. The Black Knights almost made the most of the opportunity.
West Virginia (6-4) beat Army 24-21 on Thursday, slowing the Black Knights' triple-option rushing attack (182 yards on 59 carries).
The insertion of backup quarterback Austin Kendall in the third quarter—and a surprise onside kick recovery—sparked the Mountaineers, who put together two touchdown drives in the second half to overcome a 21-10 deficit.
Quinn Maretzki missed a potential tying field goal from 39 yards with less than two minutes to play, but Army had one last chance to steal the win after forcing a three and out, getting the ball back at its 31-yard-line with 1:22 to play. The Black Knights picked up 22 yards, but Josh Chandler-Semedo intercepted Christian Anderson to seal the game.
It was a tough result for Army and its defense, which had slowed West Virginia in the first half. Javhari Bourdeau intercepted a pass, and Malkelm Morrison strip-sacked Jarret Doege to give the Black Knights a short field for their second touchdown.
Dennis Dodd @dennisdoddcbs
If you need any more example of the lack of leadership in college football, consider no one, NO ONE advocated for Army in a bowl when it got left out. It took a COVID outbreak at Tennessee for Knights to get into Liberty. That's shameful treatment of America's best and brightest.
Army was trying to reach 10 wins for just the fourth time in history and the third time in head coach Jeff Monken's seven seasons. The Black Knights finished 9-3.
Austin Kendall, West Virginia: 8-of-17, 121 yards, 2 TD
Leddie Brown, West Virginia: 20 carries, 65 yards
Jarret Doege, West Virginia: 15-of-25, 159 yards, TD, INT
Tyhier Tyler, Army: 24 carries, 76 yards, 3 TD
A.J. Howard, Army: 3 carries, 18 yards
Anthony Adkins, Army: 9 carries, 26 yards
Austin Kendall Came Up Huge
After he threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Mike O'Laughlin, Kendall helped give the Mountaineers a three-point lead with just over five minutes remaining when he connected with a wide-open T.J. Simmons from 20 yards out.
The Oklahoma transfer threw for 1,989 yards and 12 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 2019 but landed behind Jarret Doege on the depth chart this season. But when West Virginia needed a spark, he provided it.
Tyhier Tyler Had Himself a Game
No, Tyhier Tyler didn't throw a pass (Anderson finished 4-of-6 for 57 yards). No surprises there—Tyler attempted all of four passes this season.
But Army's leading rusher did his work yet again, topping the team in attempts and yards while scoring all three touchdowns. Watching Tyler spearhead the offense is a blast from the past, as the Black Knights condense their formation, use quick motions and deploy pitches to run the ball persistently.
It only works with a dynamic leader such as Tyler and a strong defense. Army had both this season, though it wasn't enough to reach 10 wins for the third time in four years.