West Virginia football is in its first bowl game under the leadership of Neal Brown at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, where they will take on the Army Black Knights for the first time since 1961.
The Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12) are hungry for a bounce-back victory after ending their regular season with a loss to Iowa State — but their hunger is matched by Army’s (9-2), who nearly missed out on a bowl altogether after the cancellation of the Independence Bowl. The result is one of the most highly-anticipated bowl matchups of the season outside of the College Football Playoff.
As is typical with season finales, there are plenty of storylines in this matchup — none might be more emotional, however, than that of the Stills brothers, Darius and Dante. The legacy duo from Fairmont, West Virginia will play in their final game together at WVU after three years, and several before that while in high school.
Darius, along with the rest of WVU’s senior class, will be honored as captains in this contest — while Dante acts as WVU’s flag bearer.
Be sure to stop back here for updates as the game unfolds.
FINAL: West Virginia holds on to win the Liberty Bowl over Army, 24-21.
1:28: WVU goes three and out, but forces Army to use all three of its timeouts. The Black Knights take over on their own 31.
1:50: Army drives down the field with the help of its third pass attempt of the game, which is completed for 32 yards. The Black Knights get in to field goal position, but Quinn Maretzki misses from 39 yards — giving WVU the ball on their own 28.
TOUCHDOWN WEST VIRGINIA (24-21) – 5:10: West Virginia takes the lead with a massive play from Kendall to Simmons for 20 yards, followed by a reverse play for the 2-point conversion to go ahead by a field goal. Kendall was massive on this drive, completing four straight passes to close out the scoring drive.
8:52: West Virginia gets another stop and keeps a good bit of time on the clock. Alec Sinkfield fields the punk for 8 yards and takes it to the WVU 35.
12:39: The Mountaineers go three-and-out after a pair of drops brings them to fourth down and long. Army will start on their own 10.
13:29: West Virginia gets the ball back on their own 48 after forcing an Army punt.
END 3Q: WVU goes three-and-out, but pin Army deep in their own territory. They’ll have a lot of ground to make up if they want to score on this next drive.
3:21: Casey Legg tries his first onside attempt of the season and it’s recovered by West Virginia. WVU starts with the ball on the Army 48.
TOUCHDOWN WEST VIRGINIA (21-16) – 3:37: Austin Kendall checks in to the game for West Virginia and leads them on a real nice drive to answer, making big completions to TJ Simmons and Bryce Ford-Wheaton for 31 and 27 yards. The drive is completed on fourth down and short with a 3-yard pass to Mike O’Laughlin, but WVU misses the 2-point conversion.
TOUCHDOWN ARMY (21-10) – 7:00: Army drives right down the field (75 yards), eating 8 minutes right off the clock with the opening series. Tyler caps it off with his third score of the game, but Jeff Pooler gets flagged on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Army begins the half with possession.
HALF: West Virginia takes a 14-10 deficit into the locker room for halftime.
TOUCHDOWN ARMY (14-10) – 1:14: It takes just two plays for Army to find paydirt.
1:52: Doege turns it over again, this time after taking a hit in the pocket — Army takes over inside the 10.
2:31: WVU stops Army once again, but use all three timeouts in the process. The Black Knights punt and the Mountaineers will start on their own 13.
TOUCHDOWN WEST VIRGINIA (10-7) – 4:21: West Virginia puts together a strong drive to respond, with 12 plays and 77 yards down the field. Jarret Doege makes a big showing, completing six passes of eight tries, including the 5-yard score to TJ Simmons.
TOUCHDOWN ARMY (7-3) – 9:31: Tyhier Tyler finishes off a 74-yard drive with a 1-yard punch-in run for a touchdown. The drive was greatly aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, while the Black Knights moved the ball the way they do it best — chipping away with small plays, with their largest gain coming at seven yards.
Army starts with the ball on its own 44 with 1st and 10.
END 1Q: WVU leads Army by a field goal, but the Black Knights have the ball near midfield.
FIELD GOAL WEST VIRGINIA (3-0) – 1:47: WVU gets a first down from an Army holding penalty, then Doege finds Sean Ryan for a big 28-yard gain to get in the red zone. The drive stalls there, though, and Sumpter gets his first make of the day from 31.
4:20: Darius and Dante Stills give Army a five-yard head start on their drive with an offsides penalty — but the Black Knights can’t get the first and turn it over on downs on the WVU 38.
6:16: After TJ Simmons drops a screen pass on first down, WVU ends up with a third-and-very-long situation. Doege drops back with time, rolls out, but ends up throwing a pick for his first turnover since Oct. 17. Army takes over on the WVU 41.
7:10: The Mountaineer defense starts strong, forcing a quick three-and-out. Army punts — something that doesn’t happen often.
9:37: West Virginia takes the ball 57 yards but comes up empty-handed after Tyler Sumpter misses a 37 yarder. There were plenty of things to like about the drive if you’re wearing the Old Gold and Blue, however — Jarret Doege started 4-for-7 with 25 yards, and the run game got started quite strong behind 22 yards for Leddie Brown.
West Virginia receives the opening kickoff.