FORT WORTH- For the second straight year, the winner of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl was not decided until the final 20 seconds of the game. Unlike last year, this time the service academies got the last laugh as Army’s Darnell Woolfolk capped off a 15-play drive with a touchdown from a yard out with 18 seconds remaining to lead Army to a 42-35 win over San Diego State.
The Black Knights (10-3) still trailed 35-34 after the score, but knew they were going to go for a two-point conversion if they scored a touchdown before the drive began.
“As we got closer and I saw the clock running down, I knew at that point I wanted to go for two, and I kind of put a bug in the ear of [offensive coordinator] Brent [Davis] and [quarterbacks coach] Mitch [Ware] and just said, ‘Hey, have a two-point play ready if we score,’” Army head coach Jeff Monken said.
The two-point play was a pitch play to Kell Walker, who was untouched for the conversion and had complete trust in his offensive line to allow him in to the end zone.
“Everybody wanted that play, our offensive line wanted that play, our receivers wanted that play. There was actually a fight between both of our wide receivers about whether it should go that way or the opposite way, I guess everybody wanted that pancake block,” Walker said.
Both teams set numerous records in this game. Army broke the team bowl record for rushing yards in a game, while San Diego State (10-3) running back Rashaad Penny broke the bowl record for most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, with his 221 yards on the ground and his four scores. The four scores gave him 24 points in the game, a new bowl record too. Penny also set a new bowl record with the longest rush and longest touchdown rush, with an 81-yard scamper on his first carry of the game.
The two teams combined for 695 rushing yards on 108 attempts, both new Armed Forces Bowl records as well. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw led the Black Knights in rushing, carrying the ball 32 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Woolfolk carried the ball 21 times for 87 yards and two scores as well. The teams combined for seven completions and 31 passing yards, the ground game dominating and doing most of the work.
Army’s seniors go out with a 10-win season, the second in the school’s history, with 1996 being the only other season with 10 victories. Army improved to 2-0 in the bowl game, and got their first ever win in Amon G. Carter Stadium, and their first ever win against San Diego State. These two teams will have some lofty expectations heading into 2018.