WOAY – After trailing 21-10, backup quarterback Austin Kendall rallied the Mountaineers to a 24-21 win over Army in the Liberty Bowl.
West Virginia had an opportunity to enter halftime with a 10-7 lead. But starting quarterback Jarrett Doege fumbled on his own-seven yard line, setting up a Black Knights touchdown with just over a minute left in the second quarter.
Doege’s costly mistake led to a quarterback change at halftime. Kendall emerged from the bench to throw for 121 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Army embarked on a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the second half, taking up eight minutes of clock. Quarterback Tyhier Tyler punctuated the march with a 2-yard touchdown to seize a 21-10 lead.
But Kendall responded, completing passes of 15, 27 and 31 yards on the ensuing drive. Facing 4th & 2 with 3:23 to go in the third quarter, Doege found Mike O’Laughlin for a 3-yard score to chip into Army’s lead.
After West Virginia’s defense forced two straight stops, Kendall orchestrated another long scoring drive. He connected with T.J. Simmons for a 20-yard score with 5:10 left to take a 24-21 lead.
The Black Knights had a chance to tie the game, but kicker Quinn Maretzki missed from 39 yards out with less than two minutes to go. A later interception by the Mountaineers’ Josh Chandler-Semedo sealed the game.
West Virginia’s comeback gives the school its first Liberty Bowl victory, after falling short in two previous tries.
With the win, the Big 12 is now 4-0 in bowl games this season. The conference went 1-5 last year.