By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)
DALLAS – In a season finale rematch, North Texas fell to Army 38-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Earlier this season, Army fell victim to seven turnovers. But on Tuesday, the Cadets proved immune to late game miscues.
“Give credit to North Texas,” Army head coach Jeff Monken told ESPN, “What a great job [North Texas head coach Seth Littrell] did with that team. It was an unbelievable battle.”
It was no secret the Mean Green defense would have its hands full against Army’s rushing attack. In retrospect, it could have used more hands.
The Black Knights, who averaged 327.5 yards rushing per game in the regular season, finished with a whopping 480 yards on the ground in Dallas. Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw and RB Darnell Woolfolk both ran for over 100 yards, and five separate Knights scored six rushing touchdowns.
Army fell to the Mean Green 35-18 in an Oct. 22 meeting between these two teams. Seven turnovers from the Black Knights undid the impact of 302 yards rushing, and gave North Texas ample opportunity to pad their lead.
On Dec. 27, a similar scenario nearly played out in the third quarter when Army’s Malik McGue muffed a punt return, and the Mean Green’s Kenny Buyers recovered the fumble.
North Texas QB Alec Morris hit WR Tyler Wilson for an 18-yard TD pass on the very next play to make the score 31-28 Army. Wilson led the Mean Green in receiving yards (81) on the day.
North Texas K Trevor Moore nailed a 37-yard field goal with 28 ticks left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
In OT, Army did what they do best -- control the clock, and move the chains. Army RB Jordan Asberry capped a seven play, 25-yard drive with a TD run from three yards out.
On the ensuing North Texas possession, Morris heaved a prayer toward the end zone on the final play of the game to no avail. Morris finished with 304 yards passing, three touchdowns, and an interception.
The Black Knights pick up their first bowl win since the 2010 season. In 2016, Army defeated archrival Navy for the first time in 15 years, and improved to an 8-5 record after finishing 2-10 in 2015.
North Texas is in the midst of a seasonal upswing as well. The Mean Green improved to 5-8 under first-year head coach Seth Littrell after going 1-11 in 2015. Conference USA teams finished with a 4-3 record in bowl games.