Army defeated Missouri in the Armed Forces Bowl, 24-22, on game-winning field goal
Army is known for its signature triple option scheme. The Black Knights are second in the country in terms of possession time and they rarely break out on the rush-up offensive.
However, when Missouri claimed a 22-21 lead 1:11 ahead, that contrasting style was required for the Army. To deviate even more from normality, the Black Knights had to forego their quarterback Christian Anderson for the final drive of the game, so Jabari Laws checked into the contest. There couldn’t have been a better goodbye for the senior.
Laws led the army across the field with two first down completions and a 13 yard rush. When the Black Knights dispatched the field goal unit, there were three seconds left. Cole Talley took the opportunity and pocketed a 41-yard field goal to claim the victory. A celebration followed when Army officially won the title of Armed Forces Bowl champion in 2021 with a 24-22 comeback against Missouri.
“I know there are a lot of great stories in college football, but I don’t think there are many more that are better,” said Army defender Jakobi Buchanan. “All of Jabari’s work that goes unseen, and only for him to go like this … a minute, 30, when I know a lot of people have tallied us – ‘insult’ but he perfected the insult. He got us within field goal range with some really good plays and then Cole just did it. “
Just before the army was about to wipe Missouri at warp speed, the Tigers drove the Black Knights to the edge. In his first career start, quarterback Brady Cook led the Tigers on an 83-yard drive that only consumed 1:33 PM. The Redshirt freshman fired a 6 yard touchdown pass at Keke Chism to propel his team to a 22-21 win.
“I thought he played really well, very calmly and collected, had great composure,” said Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri head coach, of Cook. “He did a really good job on this last run to give us the chance to win the game. Overall, I thought Brady played pretty well. “
However, a fall designed to push Dawson Downing back on the 2-point attempt left the door open for the Army to win with a field goal.
“It was a game we repeated a few times and I felt comfortable with it,” said Cook of the 2-point attempt. “I felt internal pressure and got stuck in a traffic jam. I just got it wrong. It was a bad litter. “
Cook’s touchdown connection with Chism meant Missouri’s only second-half points. The Tigers had full control early on by establishing a dominant floor game. Fighting the nation’s twelfth-placed defense, Missouri amassed 155 yards over 24 carries in the first half, beating the 111.8 yards the Army allows per fight. Cook started the scoring effort on the opening move by making a handover into a speed option. He faked the army defense for a 30 yard touchdown.
Even when the Tigers’ offense clicked, killing drives was a problem. Missouri didn’t beat in the first half, but First Team All-SEC kicker Harrison Mevis sank a series of chipshot field goals from 22, 25 and 39 yards – a testament to the Army’s strength in critical situations . Missouri entered halftime with a 16-7 lead, but the inequality between the teams did not extend any further.
“I really never had a doubt. We knew what to do after half-time, ”said Buchanan. “We had to start the offensive, play the defense and we had to play more games ourselves. At some point he did that. “
In the second half, the Black Knights strengthened their run defense and kept Missouri on the ground to just 40 yards. They stopped an important 4th and 1st at the Army’s 43-yard line – a pivotal moment that would later give the Army its first head start. The Black Knights also picked up the competition’s only takeaway when sturdy security guard Marquel Broughton forced a fumble in midfield and outside linebacker Andre Carter recovered to stop a late tiger drive.
“Basically (Cedrick Cunningham with free security) knocked our D-line over and when he did that I knew I had no real guy and I could just go in and take the edge,” Broughton said, remembering the swing – swinging 4th and 1st stop. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Army went through three quarterbacks in the Armed Forces Bowl and ended with Laws on the final drive. Christian Anderson earned the start and showed a phenomenal style of play as passer and rusher. He delivered a perfectly placed 42-yard ball to Tyrell Robinson on the second drive of the competition and then crowned the drive with a 22-yard rush around the edge.
The Black Knights later reached out to Tyhier Tyler, who was responsible for the team’s only touchdown on Wednesday. Two points less and 10:20 am remaining, head coach Jeff Monken decided to play in 4th and 2nd place. Instead of opting for a green field gate, Army had bigger ambitions. Tyler crawled out of his pocket to find Brandon Walters in the end zone for an undisputed touchdown reception – giving Army his first lead in the competition, 21-16.
Buchanan played a pivotal role in an Army team that implemented all five of its fourth downward attempts. Buchanan was automatic in close range situations, falling to 68 yards on 21 attempts. He extended his staggering streak to 258 consecutive surrenders without losing a yard. His most notable carry of the night was a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, using his 6’0, 260-pound frame to get a Missouri defender right in front of the goal line.
“They can do that best. They’re some of the best in the country, ”said Blaze Alldredge, Missouri insider linebacker. “At the end of the day we still have to wear ourselves out a bit. There have been a couple of times where we’ve given up some leaky yards and they have some big boys. We’re from the SEC, we’re used to big boys … Much of it was due to one-on-one fights that we lost. “
After Missouri fell into the army in a heart-wrenching fashion, it continues its quest for its first Bowl win since 2014. It is common for the Black Knights among Monks to come out on top in these big games. For the fourth time in six years Army Bowl hardware will be shipping back to West Point. It’s also the third Armed Forces Bowl win in this period, but the feeling never gets old for the players.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Broughton in his post-game press conference. “You’re probably still down there screaming and screaming and listening to music and jumping around. It feels great to me, but it feels even better for (the seniors) knowing that it was their last game. “