FORT WORTH, Texas — 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 1-yard run with 18 seconds left, Kell Walker converted a go-ahead 2-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.
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 4 yards.
Juwan Washington added the Aztecs’ other touchdown on a 78-yard kickoff return in the first half’s closing seconds.
“Obviously, Rashaad and Juwan had a great night,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. “Our defense played really, really poorly. And that’s coaching. So, that’s my fault.”
Army dominated the 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.”
Walker took the pitch and raced toward the right corner of the end zone.
“Our O-line did a tremendous job,” Walker said. “All I had to do was catch it and run.”
San Diego State: The Aztecs went into the game ranked ninth in FBS rush defense, allowing 110.4 yards per game. Army ran for 120 in the first quarter and 440 overall.
Army: The Black Knights went into the game ranked last in the FBS averaging 29.6 passing yards per game. They went 1-for-4 passing for 6 yards, including receiver Kjetil Cline throwing an interception.
RUNNING RECORDS FALL
Penny finished with a school-record 2,248 rushing yards this season, breaking the mark set last season by Donnel Pumphrey. He said afterward the record doesn’t mean anything since the Aztecs finished with a loss. Penny also became the fourth FBS player ever to run for 200 yards in five straight games.
Army’s seniors progressed from records of 4-8 and 2-10 during their first two seasons to 8-5 and 10-3, with two straight wins over Navy and the school’s first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 1996.
“We flipped the script last year and built the foundation that we’re still building to where 10-win seasons are now the expectation,” linebacker Alex Aukerman said.
San Diego State: Having produced 2,000-yard rushers each of the past two seasons, the Aztecs will look to Washington as their primary ball carrier in 2018. The 5-foot-7, 190-pounder ran for 759 yards this season as a sophomore. The Aztecs, with seven starters each returning on offense and defense, will open at Stanford on Sept. 1.
Army: While the academy’s public affairs office stated two weeks ago that senior Bradshaw would spend an additional year at West Point, he said following Saturday’s play: “This is my last game.” The Black Knights will open at Duke on Sept. 1.