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FORT WORTH, TX – A game-winning field goal from kicker Cole Talley was the difference in the Army Black Knights’ 24-22 victory over Missouri in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Though Army (9-4) did not gain the lead until the fourth quarter, which saw 16 combined points scored, Talley’s 41-yard boot helped the Cadets improve to 4-0 in the Armed Forces Bowl as the game clock expired.
In addition to Talley’s efforts, the team was also boosted to the win by linebacker Arik Smith, who was named the game MVP. The team captain finished the night with 12 tackles and a pair of sacks for 13 yards.
In the fifth all-time meeting between the programs, the first half was controlled by Missouri (6-7, 2-5 SEC). The Tigers used a game-opening touchdown and a 22-yard field goal to jump out to an early 10-0 lead. Army had a chance to respond on its first drive of the night, but its field goal attempt went wide left.
After struggling in the opening quarter, the Black Knights’ offense found its rhythm in the second quarter. Quarterback Christian Anderson started a possession with a 42-yard pass to running back Tyrell Robinson, and the Cadets cruised from there as Anderson later found pay dirt with a 22-yard run that cut the Tigers’ lead down to 10-7 two minutes into the second quarter.
Missouri answered the push with back-to-back field goals to extend its lead ahead of the halftime break. Both linebacker Malkelm Morrison and Smith made crucial plays on each drive to prevent the team from reaching the end zone. Morrison came up with a huge tackle on third down, while Smith’s five-yard sack limited the Mizzou lead to 16-7.
Army started to regain momentum after the pause, striking on its first possession of the second half. Though the drive was nearly stopped by the Tigers’ defense, running back Jakobi Buchanan prolonged the attack by converting a fourth-and-one. Two plays later, he recorded a 10-yard touchdown run that cut the Mizzou advantage down to 16-14 with eight minutes left in the quarter.
The Black Knights got to work quickly in their overtaking of the SEC foe in the fourth quarter. After marching down the field and into the red zone, quarterback Tyhier Tyler connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Walters for Army’s first lead of the night at 21-16 with 6:30 remaining.
Missouri’s initial chances to respond were crushed by Army’s defense, as safety Marquel Broughton forced a fumble before the team could cross the 50-yard line. Linebacker Andre Carter II recovered the ball to give Army’s offense another chance to work, but the team went three-and-out.
Mizzou took advantage of its final possession of the night, working its way down the field after punter Zach Harding forced the drive to start on the two-yard line. Eventually, a six-yard touchdown pass allowed the Tigers to regain the lead at 22-21 with less than 90 seconds left.
The Black Knights, who have proven their resilience throughout the season, refused to go down without a fight and used a full-team effort to rally past the Tigers. Appearing for the first time all evening, quarterback Jabari Laws came in under center and led a heroic, eight-play, 51-yard drive that was highlighted by a pair of long passes to wide receiver Isaiah Alston. Though Laws was unable to reach pay dirt, he set up Talley’s game-winning kick in his final game as a Black Knight.
With the result, the Black Knights improve to 7-3 in Bowl games, which includes a 4-1 record under head coach Jeff Monken. The victory additionally moves Monken (58-43) up the program’s all-time wins list, as he is now tied with former head coach Charles Daly (58-13-3; 1913-16, 1919-22) as the second-winningest Army Football coach.