MEMPH IS, Tenn. (AP) West Virginia coach Neal Brown knew he would use backup quarterback Austin Kendall in the second half. The senior in the red jersey ended up leading the Mountaineers to a victory at the Liberty Bowl.
Kendall threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to TJ Simmons with 5:10 remaining, and West Virginia held Army 24-21 at bay on Thursday.
Brown said the decision to switch quarterbacks was made at halftime by the Mountaineers coaching staff after starter Jarret Dodge struggled, particularly in the second quarter.
” Jarret has played very, very well all year, but for whatever reason, he didn’t see it well,” Brown said, adding, ” I thought ( Kendall) came into relief and did a good job.” ‘
Army (9-3) had a chance to tie with 1:50 left, but Quinn Martini’s 39-yard field goal went down the left. Josh Chandler finished Army’s final possession with an interception and led the Mountaineers (6-4) with 13 tackles.
Simmons also scored on a 5-yard pass from Dodge.
Army quarterback Their Tyler had three rushing touchdowns, of 1, 6 and 2 yards, to tie a Liberty Bowl record.
” You can’t do anything without the offensive line, the slots and the fullbacks,” Tyler said. “ They pave the way and I just follow them. ”
The Black Knights were initially scheduled to play in the Independence Bowl, but appeared to be left out of the bowl lineup after the Shreveport, Louisiana bowl was canceled. They had a chance to play in the Liberty Bowl after Tennessee (3-7) was excluded due to COV ID-19 cases.
The game was played in cloudy conditions with occasional rain and temperatures below 40 degrees. Weather and local COV ID-19 restrictions limited the crowd at the 60,000-seat Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, leaving groups of the announced 8,187 fans scattered throughout the stadium.
Both teams controlled each other’s offense for much of the first half. Army coach Jeff Monken noted that his team, one of the best rushing teams in the country, was limited to 83 total yards at halftime.
” West Virginia just beat blocks, they beat blocks,” Monken said. ” ( They) got to where they needed to be to make the play. And they did that a lot. ”
What started out as a defensive battle changed after halftime. The army’s hasty offensive was not followed up, while a change of quarterbacks to Kendall for West Virginia gave it more firepower through the air.
” I thought this game looked like 2020 in a lot of ways,” Brown said. ” A suitable way to close the year. It wasn’t a beautiful thing, but it was brave. ”
Army: The Black Knights rushing offense failed to move early, not making up their first initial down until the last play of the first quarter. Eventually, they had some success attacking the perimeter of the West Virginia defense.
West Virginia: While the defense controlled things early on, the Mountaineers were unable to capitalize enough to build a significant advantage. Turnovers hurt West Virginia, especially Dodge’s fumble deep in his own territory late in the first half, giving Army an advantage. Kendall taking over at quarterback made the difference as he threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
Army lost eight players who did not dress for the game, many of them key parts of the team, due to health and safety protocol.
” I don’t know if it changed,” Monken said. “Obviously when you have players that are a big part of your offense and defense, including the kicking game, it changes you a bit.”
D ISAPPO INT ING END
The loss snapped the Black Knights’ three-game winning streak. ” The most painful aspect is not finishing,” linebacker Arik Smith said. ” Being so close and not being able to finish it. But we will regroup and do this again, and we will win. ”
UNT IL NEXT T IME:
Army: The Black Knights, who ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak, will attempt to continue their winning path. There are 17 seniors on the Army’s list, but four of the five incumbents on the offensive line are seniors.
West Virginia: While the Mountaineers lost four games during the regular season, three of them were against nationally ranked teams at the time. With key offensive players like Dodge and leading running back Eddie Brown with other years of eligibility along with a young corps of receivers, the Mountaineers have a good future on offense.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.