Army came into this afternoon’s Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl second in the nation in rushing. Its opponent, North Texas, was 105th (out of 128 teams) in the country in stopping the run. It didn’t take a rocket surgeon to see where this one was headed.
On the strength of 294 first-half yards on the ground, the Black Knights literally ran its way to a 24-21 halftime lead on the Mean Green. The lead could’ve been a little larger as Army failed to cash in on all four point-afters — they missed the extra point kick after their first touchdown then failed on back-to-back-to-back two-point attempts on the next three scores.
All four of the service academy’s touchdowns came on the ground. The Black Knights, which came into the game averaging just under 10 pass attempts per game, attempted just one pass the first two quarters — and that one was completed and went for 38 yards.
Seven Black Knight players were credited with at least one carry, with Darnell Woolfolk‘s 84 yards and Tyler Campbell‘s 80 (70 came on a first-quarter touchdown run) pacing the team. Woolfolk accounted for two of the four rushing touchdowns.
Army’s defense was nearly the equal of its rushing offense in holding UNT’s offense to less than 100 yards prior to the last six minutes-plus of the half for the Mean Green. Those last six-plus minutes, though, completely changed the complexion of the game.
A nine-play, 83-yard drive, capped off by Jeffrey Wilson‘s 22-yard touchdown pass from former Alabama quarterback Alec Morris with 2:26 left in the half, nearly doubled UNT’s offense output to 177 yards for the first two quarters and cut the deficit to two scores. After UNT’s defense pushed Army into a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Morris drove the Mean Green another 68 yards on a possession that ended with the quarterback’s second touchdown pass of the half, a 27-yarder to Rico Bussey, and sliced the margin to a mere field goal with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
Army is seeking to exact revenge for a 35-18 loss to UNT earlier this year in which the Black Knights committed seven turnovers, which the Mean Green turned into 21 points. In this game, Army hasn’t turned the ball over once.
North Texas will receive the ball to open the second half.