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2018 Armed Forces Bowl: Army Breaks Multiple Records in Throttling Win

BJ Laudermilk
The Army Black Knights celebrate after clinching their 11th win of the season.

FORT WORTH- The No. 22 Army Black Knights ran their way into the record book in a dominant win over the Houston Cougars 70-14 in the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl.

Army (11-2) established a new program record for wins in a season, finishing the year on a nine-game winning streak, while their triple option rushing attack established new Armed Forces Bowl records with 592 total yards, 507 on the ground, the first team to gain that many yards on the ground in a bowl game since 2015. The 70 points scored and 56-point margin of victory also tied FBS bowl records.

Army junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. had 11 rushes for 170 yards and a bowl record 5 touchdowns on the ground, earning game MVP honors for his performance.

“I think this is the most complete game we played as a team where offense was clicking, defense was clicking, and you know it was exciting to be a part of that energy on the sideline, it was amazing,” Hopkins Jr. said.

Defensively, the Black Knights also set an Armed Forces Bowl record for sacks in a game, as they got to the Houston (8-5) quarterback ten times in the game, led by senior linebacker James Nachtigal who had 3.5 sacks, also a new bowl record. He also added 2.5 tackles for loss as part of his 16 total tackles. Nachtigal credited safeties coach John Loose, who served as Army’s defensive coordinator for the game, as a big reason why he was able to get involved in so many plays.

“He loves to blitz, so we kind of knew it was coming, we didn’t know how much he was going to do it, but he tried some things out and they were working, and we just kept on running it,” he said.

The Army senior class finished their careers with 29 wins in the last three seasons, winning their bowl game in each of those years, as well as defeating their arch rival Navy three consecutive times. Head coach Jeff Monken reflected on how his seniors started their careers as a two-win team before they were able to put their names in the Army record books.

“I knew that we had something special going on in our program, just the fight in those guys to come back week after week, being such a young team, and losing so many close games, but still to have the resiliency and the mental toughness to come back,” Monken said.

Army also became the Armed Forces Bowl’s first three-time winner, after victories in 2010 and 2017. Army has won their last four bowl games, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in the past eight years, also claiming the 2016 Heart of Dallas bowl in overtime against North Texas.

The Black Knights kick off their 2019 campaign at home against Rice on August 30.

Benjamin, “BJ” Laudermilk, an aspiring play-by-play announcer, is a graduate of Rockwall High School and a current Radio and Television student at Texas A&M-Commerce. He began his sports broadcasting career as an on-air personality with his high school’s broadcasting team. He has been the walk-up announcer for his high school baseball team, the announcer and clock operator for middle school football teams, and most recently, was the “voice” of the Rockwall High School Orange Wave band.
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