Army does what it does best in record-setting performance
By Jeff Wilson
FORT WORTH -- Everyone knows that Army doesn't throw the ball much.
San Diego State's Rocky Long, who has the reputation of a defensive-minded coach, knew it and all the potential perils of facing a ground-based offense.
Long drives. Worn-out defenses. Frustrated players.
It all played out Saturday afternoon at Amon G. Carter Stadium, where the Black Knights pounded away with their top-ranked rushing attack and did just enough with it to come back for a 42-35 victory in the 15th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, Darnell Woolfolk rushed for two more scores, and Kell Walker raced home with the go-ahead two-point conversion with only 18 seconds remaining.
Army threw only four passes and had only one completion for 6 yards, yet capped a second straight season with a bowl win thanks to believing in their offense and sticking to what got them to a 10-win season.
"It's what we do best," Army coach Jeff Monkin said. "We had some plays we got 9, 10, 11 yards. For us, it might take us four or five tries throwing to gain 11 yards. This is what we do, it's what our guys believe in, it's what we're best at."
Included in the Army ground game were an LMAFB-record 440 yards on 87 carries, which tied the all-time FBS bowl record (Oklahoma, 1972 Sugar Bowl), and five rushing touchdowns. Army converted 13 of 18 third downs, 12 on the ground, and 4 of 5 fourth-down tries.
The Black Knights held the ball for 46 minutes to set an all-time FBS bowl record.
They had 31 first down, 30 on the ground, to tie another all-time bowl record.
Long gave credit to the Army offense while panning the Aztecs' defense and coaching. He said that the Black Knights "outformationed" the Aztecs and often had an advantage in numbers.
San Diego State's biggest mistake came on the deciding play. Long said that they called for a blitz on the edge where they believed Walker would be taking a pitch for the two-point conversion, but the player never came.
Army players said that there was never a doubt they would go for the win during the long discussion they had during a review of Woolfolk's 1-yard dive and two Aztecs timeouts, and they play they ran was the consensus choice.
"They gave us a little time to think about whether we were going to go for two or not, but we had no doubt in our mind that we were going to go for two and try to win the game," said Bradshaw, who had 32 carries. "It was two or three plays that we were going to run, but everyone kind of agreed that was the best one to run at the time."
Said Walker: "During the timeout, our o-linemen wanted that play. Our wide receivers wanted that play. It was actually a fight between our wide receivers to go the opposite way or that way because everybody wanted that pancake block."
In the end, the Black Knights ran 91 plays -- 60 more than San Diego State. They simply outlasted the Aztecs with the country's best rushing offense.
"I was tired, so I knew everybody in the field was tired," Bradshaw said.