DALLAS (AP) — For Army coach Jeff Monken, there was never really a second thought about what to do on fourth down from the 3 on the opening possession of overtime.
Not with the way the triple-option Black Knights dominate running the ball and struggle kicking it.
Jordan Asberry took a toss and scored Army’s sixth rushing touchdown in a 38-31 win over North Texas on Tuesday in a rematch at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“One of our goals is not flinch and believe no matter what,” said quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for 129 yards and a score. “A lot of people say it’s a questionable call. … We were determined to get it in.”
The Black Knights (8-5) finished with 480 yards rushing, including 119 yards and two TDs by Darnell Woolfolk. Asberry’s score was the 46th rushing touchdown this season, breaking the school record held by the 1945 national championship team that had two Heisman Trophy winners in the backfield.
North Texas (5-8) had its chance in overtime. But after Alec Morris scrambled for 4 yards and Jeffery Wilson lost 3, consecutive incomplete passes followed. The former Alabama graduate transfer threw for 304 yards and three TDs, but his desperation fourth-down throw on the run ended the game.
“We may not have accomplished our mission of winning our bowl game, but these men … set a solid foundation of brotherhood,” first-year coach Seth Littrell said.
North Texas, which lost five of its last six games after winning 35-18 at Army on Oct. 22, was in the bowl based on its Academic Progress Rate.
Army’s 1945 team had 45 rushing touchdowns while going 9-0. Doc Blanchard scored 16 of them and won the Heisman that season. Glenn Davis had 15 a year before winning his Heisman Trophy.
The Black Knights have a three-game winning streak, including their first win over Navy since 2001.
“We’re a work in a progress. I hope we always will be and be improving,” Monken said. “Proud of our guys and how we finished this season.”
North Texas showed some positive signs under Littrell despite the tough finish. The Mean Green won only one game in 2015. Wilson, whose 160 yards in October were the most this season against Army, had a 22-yard TD run on the Mean Green’s opening drive Tuesday. He finished with 81 yards on 20 carries, and also turned a screen pass into another 22-yard touchdown.
Army: The Black Knights finished with their most wins since going 10-2 in 1996. In the loss to North Texas two months ago, they had seven turnovers (three lost fumbles, four interceptions). They had only one this time, a muffed punt return that immediately led to a North Texas touchdown at the end of the third quarter.
Woolfolk had a 5-yard TD on the game’s opening possession, a vintage Army drive with six different players carrying on 11 rushing plays, but missed the extra point. North Texas led only after a TD and PAT on its opening drive, but Army then had TD runs on each of its next three drives and led 24-7 after missing 2-point conversions each time.
SEE YOU AGAIN SOON
Army will be in North Texas next Nov. 18 to play the Mean Green again. The Black Knights also have a conditional agreement already to play in next year’s Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth if they are bowl eligible.
Tyler Campbell’s 70-yard TD run in the first quarter was Army’s longest running play this season. … Bradshaw’s 65-yard keeper for a score in the third quarter was his career-long run. … Army LB Jeremy Timpf had 15 tackles (12 solo), and CB Elijah Riley had two interceptions.
North Texas: QB Mason Fine, who started nine games as a freshman before a shoulder injury late in the season, should be back with Wilson when the Mean Green host Lamar in their 2017 opener on Sept. 2.
Army: is set to return Bradshaw along with Woolfolk and several other runners, and four starting linemen, for its triple-option offense. The Black Knights open the 2017 season against Fordham on Sept. 1.