- Associated Press
Sunday, September 23, 2018

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Army couldn’t have played much better against Oklahoma.

The Black Knights, more than four-touchdown underdogs on the road, held on to the ball for nearly 45 minutes and ran 87 plays to Oklahoma’s 40. They had a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma missed a field goal at the end of regulation that could have won the game. Everything seemed to be falling Army’s way.


In the end, it wasn’t enough. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb in overtime, and Parnell Motley intercepted Kelvin Hopkins’ fourth-down pass to help the Sooners escape with a 28-21 victory on Saturday night.

A loss but much respect all around for the Black Knights.

“This Army team, them boys were tough,” said Curtis Bolton, who had 23 tackles for the busy Oklahoma defense. “They played a hell of a football game. I’m glad we came out with the W.”

Oklahoma knew the triple option was coming and Hopkins ran it nearly to perfection. He ran for 102 yards and a touchdown while constantly fooling the Sooners with his ball handling, but he threw two critical late interceptions.

“That’s what makes it even more disappointing to lose, because our guys fought so hard and gutted it out,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “I’m sure there were very few people who gave our guys a chance to win. We had a chance to win the football game and we’re disappointed that we didn’t.”

Monken said the Black Knights would have gone for two and the win if they had scored a touchdown on their overtime possession. The Black Knights were 4 for 4 on fourth-down conversions until Motley’s interception.

“Every loss is tough,” Hopkins said. “It hurts right now, but our job tomorrow is to come back and find what we can do better to get another win next weekend. That’s what we’re going to do. Like I said, it hurts, but we can’t dwell on it too long.”

Army won 10 games last season for the second time in its long and storied history. The Black Knights are 2-2 this season, losing only to undefeated Duke and undefeated Oklahoma, both on the road. They will pay a visit to another undefeated team, Buffalo, next weekend.

In this one, Oklahoma led 21-14 at halftime after Army had 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drives on its first two possessions. Hopkins ran for 55 yards in the first half, including a nifty 5-yard touchdown run. Army ran 39 times for 183 yards in the first half and had the ball for 22:01, leaving Oklahoma time enough to run only 20 plays.

The Black Knights tied the game at 21 with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter after a 19-play, 85-yard drive that took 10:47 off the clock.

Oklahoma drove to the Army 1, but the Black Knights got the stop on fourth-and-goal and took over with 12:23 to go.

“A lot of heart, a lot of toughness and playing really well fundamentally,” Monken said. “Pads down, hands where they’re supposed to be, in the gaps where they’re supposed to be. And that’s what it takes. So I was proud of our guys for that goal-line stand. It was a great, great effort.”

Sooners fans applauded Army’s players as they left the field. Even with the loss, the Black Knights left feeling good about themselves.

“To be part of a football team, to come in here tonight and about pull off a victory against a great football program - I’m just incredibly proud to be part of this football team,” Monken said. “I’m proud of our players. It’s just a privilege to be part of a group of people who just care so much. It’s fun to be part of something like that.”

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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