West Virginia rallies to top Army in Liberty Bowl
Backup quarterback Austin Kendall threw two second half touchdown passes Thursday, including the game-winner to T.J. Simmons with 5:10 remaining, as West Virginia rallied for a 24-21 victory over Army in the Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn.
Taking over for starter Jarret Doege, who was 15 of 25 for 159 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble, Kendall had an instant impact. He connected with Mike O’Laughlin on a 3-yard scoring strike with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter that pulled the Mountaineers within 21-16.
Kendall then found Simmons for his second touchdown of the day, a 20-yard pass that finished off a 65-yard drive and enabled West Virginia to finish the year at 6-4. Kendall hit on 8 of his 17 passes for 121 yards.
The Black Knights (9-3), who took the place of Tennessee in the game after the Volunteers bowed out last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, could have tied the game with 1:50 remaining. But kicker Quinn Maretzki yanked a 39-yard field-goal attempt wide left.
Army had one final chance to win or force overtime, but West Virginia’s Josh Chandler-Semedo intercepted Christian Anderson at the Mountaineers’ 26-yard line with 29 seconds remaining.
Army’s Tyhier Tyler rushed 24 times for 76 yards and three scores, while Anderson completed 4 of 6 passes for 57 yards.
West Virginia initiated scoring late in the first quarter, tapping into a field position advantage created by its defense after it stopped Army on a 4th-and-2 at the Mountaineers’ 38. Tyler Sumpter’s 31-yard field goal capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive.
The Black Knights finally found traction on their next possession, eating 74 yards and more than seven minutes on 14 plays. Tyler ran off right tackle for a 1-yard touchdown.
West Virginia grabbed a 10-7 edge in the second quarter when Doege found Simmons for a 5-yard scoring strike at the 4:21 mark.
Just before the half, Doege was sacked by Army’s Malkeim Morrison and stripped of the ball, with Ryan Duran recovering at the West Virginia 7 for the Black Knights. That turned into a 6-yard touchdown keeper by Tyler two plays later that gave Army a 14-10 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media