Dec 31, 2020; Memphis, TN, USA; Army Black Knights linebacker Arik Smith (53) sacks West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) for fumble during the first half  at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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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

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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