The Army Black Knights came into the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl having one of their best seasons in school history. Army entered the game with a 10-2 record, including a 17-10 win against Navy. Army had already accomplished something that the school has never done before: back-to-back 10 win seasons.
Houston, on the other hand, came into the match short-handed and disappointed with their 8-4 record in the regular season. Coach Major Applewhite’s two star players, quarterback D’Eriq King, and defensive tackle Ed Oliver, were unable to play due to injuries. Additionally, the rest of Houston’s three starting defensive lineman were out for injuries. These missing parts to the Cougars’ team became incredibly apparent very early in the game.
Dominance from the start
Before the game, Houston was fourth in the country in points per game with an average of 46.4. So, the Army defense knew they would have their hands full. The Black Knights had no issue rising to the challenge. Houston’s offense came out attempting to employ a hurry-up offense in an effort to catch the Black Knights on their heels, yet were unsuccessful.
Army forced a punt on the Cougars’ first possession. Junior quarterback, Kelvin Hopkins Jr., then took the Black Knights on a textbook drive of 14 plays for 80 yards. Despite an unfortunate block in the back penalty, the drive concluded with a Hopkins Jr. one-yard touchdown run, taking a total of 7:47 off the clock.
Once again, the Black Knights’ defense forced a punt for a touchback and began their drive on the 20 yard line. This drive was almost the exact opposite of Army’s first drive. The Black Knights ran one play before Hopkins Jr. broke a 77-yard touchdown run to put them up 14-0.
As if it couldn't get worse for Houston, on the next drive, freshman quarterback Clayton Tune was stripped while moving outside of the pocket, and Army recovered the ball for a touchdown.
As the first half progressed, Army continued to score, and Houston continued to struggle. At one point during the first half, Hopkins Jr. had four touchdowns on five carries. At halftime, the score read 42-7.
The Black Knights opened up the third quarter with a quick Hopkins Jr. score to go up 49-7. He finished the game with five touchdowns and 170 yards rushing.
To demonstrated how badly Army had already defeated Houston’s will to win, the Cougars punted from Army’s 30 yard line on their next possession.
The Army Black Knights finished out the absolute domination of Houston with a stellar second half, and a 70-14 victory.
A scary moment for the Black Knights
About half way through the third quarter, Kelvin Hopkins Jr, came out of the game with an injury. Fortunately, the injury appears to just be to his non-throwing shoulder. Although, we are unsure of the extent and severity of the injury, a left shoulder injury is much better than a lower body injury.
Backup quarterback for Army, Cam Thomas, came in for Hopkins Jr. and did a fine job. He fumbled the ball on his second play in the game. But after that, Thomas settled in and gave his team a reason to believe he has the ability to take over for Hopkins Jr. with no issues going forward. Thomas finished the game with both a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown.
Army makes history
With this win over Houston, the Black Knights finish the season 11-2. This is the first eleven win season in school history. Furthermore, Army has an opportunity to finish the season in the College Football Playoff Rankings for the first time since its inception.
This season has been truly remarkable for the Black Knights. Furthermore, their star quarterback, Kelvin Hopkins Jr., will be returning next year for his senior season. As the Black Knights improve in recruiting they will continue to have winning seasons. So long as Coach Jeff Monken doesn’t leave for another job, Army will likely have another tremendous season in 2019.