Army coach Jeff Monken was able to joke afterward.
“We had ’em all the way,” Monken deadpanned.
It wasn’t quite that easy for the Black Knights.
Darnell Woolfolk scored on a one-yard run with 18 seconds left, Kell Walker converted a go-ahead two-point run and Army added a last-play defensive touchdown for a 42-35 victory over San Diego State on Saturday in the Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth.
After Rashaad Penny’s fourth touchdown run of the game gave San Diego State (10-3) a 35-28 lead with 5:47 to play, Army (10-3) drove 72 yards for the tying score and winning conversion.
“It was tough, but we were confident we’d move the ball,” Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw said.
On the Aztecs’ final play, they made multiple laterals from their 40. The final lateral was grabbed by Army’s Elijah Riley, who returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.
The Black Knights tied a school record for wins set by the 1996 team.
Penny ran for 221 yards, his fifth straight game of at least 200 yards. His scores came on runs of 81, on his first carry, 31, 49 and four yards.
Juwan Washington added the Aztecs’ other touchdown on a 78-yard kickoff return in the first half’s closing seconds.
Army dominated time of possession. The Black Knights ran 91 plays to the Aztecs’ 30 and held the ball for 46:00 to San Diego State’s 13:53.
“That’s our brand of football,” Monken said. “We don’t have anybody like they have — when you break through the line, it’s six points.”
Woolfolk ran for two touchdowns, and Bradshaw and Andy Davidson ran for one each.
Monken said there was no doubt the Black Knights would go for two points if they pulled within one in the closing minutes with a touchdown.
“That No. 20, Rashaad Penny — if we went into overtime, he’s going to get the ball in his hands again,” Monken said. “There’s no way I wanted to watch that anymore.”
Tyre McCants caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Quinton Flowers with 16 seconds left to lift South Florida to a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech at Birmingham, Ala.
Flowers lifted the Bulls (10-2) to a second straight dramatic victory in the bowl game at Legion Field, throwing for two touchdowns in the final 4:26.
The Red Raiders (6-7) had taken the lead back with Nic Shimonek’s 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open T.J. Vasher in the end zone with 1:31 remaining. That left Flowers with plenty of time to work, it turns out.
The Bulls won last year’s Birmingham Bowl on Flowers’ 25-yard touchdown pass in overtime against South Carolina.
The senior passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns in this one. He also ran 14 times for 106 yards and a fifth score. Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained 133 yards on three catches.
Shimonek, who had led a fourth-quarter comeback in the regular-season finale against Texas, completed 32 of 59 passes for 416 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted twice on deflected balls.
Dollar General Bowl
Jalin Moore ran for 125 yards and a career-high three touchdowns and Appalachian State routed Toledo 34-0 at Mobile, Ala.
Appalachian State (9-4) won its third straight bowl game since making the complete transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2015. Moore’s big night and the Mountaineers’ impressive defense were the biggest reasons the streak continues.
Toledo’s offense was averaging nearly 40 points per game this season but looked lost against Appalachian State’s swarming defense. The Rockets (11-3) were also hurt by four turnovers.