With 1:11 to play in the Lockheed Armed Forces Bowl, Brady Cook, who was starting at quarterback for the first time in a Missouri uniform, found veteran WR Keke Chism in the end zone to cap an 83-yard drive and put the Tigers up 22-21. On the ensuing two-point attempt that could’ve ensured the Tigers couldn’t lose on a field goal, Cook had a wide open Dawson Downing, but just missed him.
As the rest of the clock ticked down, Army inserted their passing QB Jabari Laws to lead their frantic comeback. A couple big completions and facemask penalty on Freshman CB DJ Jackson allowed the Black Knight to attempt a 41-yard field goal. Cole Talley split the uprights, and Army stormed the field as champions of the Armed Forces Bowl for the fourth time.
“It just sucks,” Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis said after the game.
Despite the end result, the game didn’t always go Army’s way. Early on, it was all Tigers. A masterful 72-yard drive from Cook and Co. that featured a heavy dose of running the ball put the Tigers up 7-0 early on a 30-yard touchdown run by Cook.
“He played very well, very calm, collected. [He] had composure, and you know, did a really nice job on the last drive to give us a chance to win the game,” Missouri Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz said of Cook’s performance.
After forcing Army to settle for a field goal that Tally pulled wide left, the Tigers marched all the way down to the Army 1-yard line once more. This time, however, they wouldn’t find the endzone, which would become somewhat of a reoccurring theme.
A questionable decision on a read option by Cook on second down, followed by a sack on third down, ensured the Tigers would only leave the field with a 22-yard Harrison Mevis field goal.
Building off the momentum of holding the Tigers to a field goal, the Black Knights marched down the field a second time and refused to be denied. A 22-yard QB keeper from Christian Anderson for a touchdown cut the Missouri lead back to 10-7.
Missouri looked like they were going to respond with another touchdown of their own when they got back inside the Army 10-yard line behind a heavy dose of Brady Cook’s legs, he would finish with 53 yards rushing. However, upon their arrival in the Army red zone, the demons from their last drive struck again, and the Tigers kicked another field goal, this time from 25 yards.
Thanks to a tackle for loss from Blaze Alldredge on a crucial third down, the Tigers got another chance to put more distance between themselves and the Black Knights before halftime. But as the story of this game went, it wasn’t to be.
A strong drive from Cook and his dynamic runningback duo of Elijah Young and Dawson Downing had the Tigers rolling until two penalties and sack left the Tigers with no option but to settle for a 39-yard field goal before half.
Despite rushing for 155 yards on just 24 attempts in the first half and outgaining the Black Knights 272 to 132, the Tigers were still in a ballgame.
When the two teams returned from the locker rooms, Army turned the game on its head.
A 17 play touchdown drive that lasted 8:25 was how the Black Knights answered coming out of the half. Even with starting QB Christian Anderson leaving the game injured on the drive, the Black Knights wouldn’t be denied.
Backup QB Tyhier Tyler rode St. Louis and Chaminade product RB Jakobi Buchanan all way to the endzone and just inconceivably, Army was knocking on the Tigers’ door to take the lead.
With the lead now at just 16-14 despite a mostly dominant performance from the Tigers, the offense needed to get some momentum back. However, a 4th and 1 stood in between the Tigers and extending their drive, and somewhat questionably, Eli Drinkwitz elected to bounce a run to the outside that was easily stopped by Army.
Now with the ball at midfield and a chance to take the lead, the Black Knights took their chance and capitalized. After converting one fourth down on the drive already, the Black Knights faced another 4th and 2 from the Missouri 14. After a timeout and much deliberation, a perfect play action was executed by Tyler as he found Brandon Walters in the endzone to put the Black Knights up 21-16.
That was Tyler’s only pass of the night, and the Black Knights would finish 5-5 on 4th down.
A Dawson Downing fumble on the next drive looked to be a possible nail in Missouri’s coffin, but a great defensive stand from a defense that at one point was missing its entire secondary, gave the Tigers a new life. However, the Tigers would do nothing with that drive and punted back to Army with just 3:48 to play, something that is usually a death sentence.
Somewhat shockingly, Missouri’s defense forced another three-and-out, and Brady Cook got one last shot to polish off a debut victory. Unfortunately for him, his late game touchdown drive to take the lead would be for naught, and Army’s last second field goal sealed a day of heartbreak for Tiger fans.
Despite the loss, Drinkwitz was still proud of his team, “They played as well as I could’ve hoped,” he said. “They played their butts off.”