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(Thursday, December 30th)
Final Score: Army 16, SMU 14
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Alex Carlton's 44-yard field goal late in the second quarter proved to be the difference, as the Army Black Knights held off the SMU Mustangs, 16-14, in the Armed Forces Bowl at Ford Stadium.
Jared Hassin carried the ball 18 times for 82 yards for the Black Knights (7-6), who were playing in their first bowl game since 1996. Patrick Mealy rushed for 57 yards on 11 carries, while Malcolm Brown carried the ball five times for 31 yards and a score in the victory.
Trent Steelman completed 2-of-7 passes for 30 yards for Army, which recorded seven wins in a season for the first time since the 1996 squad went 10-2. Steelman also rushed for 27 yards on 10 carries.
"I'm so happy for them that they had this day, that they got this seventh win," Army head coach Rich Ellerson said. "We've been saying, Bring winning football back for two years, and they did. So they've earned a place. We talk about the pantheon of great Army football teams."
Kyle Padron connected on 23-of-34 passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Mustangs (7-7), who had the luxury of playing in their home stadium.
Zach Line carried the ball 17 times for 103 yards for SMU, which beat Nevada in the 2009 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, 45-10.
Darius Johnson caught nine passes for 152 yards and a score. Aldrick Robinson hauled in five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. He finished the year with at least one touchdown catch in eight straight contests.
Trailing, 16-0, the Mustangs scored a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. Backed up at the eight-yard line, Line rushed for 17 yards on the first play. That was followed up by consecutive 13-yard passes from Padron to Cole Beasley and Robinson. Line then ripped off a 13-yard run to put the ball at the Army 36. Johnson and Keenan Holman made big catches on third-down plays to set up Robinson's eight-yard score.
The SMU defense forced Army to punt the ball on the first play of the fourth quarter. Padron led the Mustangs on a 10-play, 74-yard drive. Holman's 10-yard catch was the biggest play of the march prior to Johnson's 28-yard TD grab, which cut the deficit to 16-14 with 9:20 to play.
The Black Knights went three-and-out, and SMU took over at its own 38 with 8:15 left. The Mustangs moved the ball to the Army 30-yard line. Matt Szymanski came on to kick the potential go-ahead field goal, but he missed it wide left.
Army took over with 4:05 remaining and used its rushing attack to put the game away. Faced with a 3rd-and-5, Steelman rushed for six yards. On the next third down, 3rd-and-4, Davyd Brooks hauled in a 22-yard pass to seal the win.
On the third play of the game, the Mustangs fumbled the football. Padron dropped back and was sacked by Zach Watts. The ball came out and Josh McNary picked it up and raced 55 yards the other way for a touchdown.
SMU got to the 18-yard line of Army on the ensuing possession, but Szymanski missed a 35-yard field goal.
The Black Knights capitalized with an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Mealy's 22- yard run highlighted the march that Brown capped with a 13-yard TD run. It remained 13-0 after the extra point was blocked.
The Mustangs' mistake-filled first quarter continued, as Padron was intercepted by Stephen Anderson in Army territory. The Black Knights got to the SMU 34 before punting early in the second stanza.
Padron was picked off by Joshua Jackson this time around, but another Army punt followed.
Carlton made a 44-yard field goal with over 2 1/2 minutes remaining to give the Black Knights a 16-0 edge.
Army leads the all-time series with SMU, 3-0...This was the eighth installment of the Armed Forces Bowl, which saw Air Force knock off Houston by a 47-20 final in last year's game...The Black Knights snapped a two-game losing streak in bowl games...Army halted a nine-game losing streak in the month of December...The Black Knights improved to 3-2 all-time in bowl games...This season marked only the second time that all three service academies have won seven games in the same season (1963: Army, 7-3; Navy, 9-2; Air Force, 7-4)...The Mustangs won the Conference USA West Division with a 6-2 league mark this year, though, they went just 1-4 outside of conference play. In the C-USA Championship, SMU fell to UCF by a 17-7 final.
12/30 16:44:01 ET