Postgame (Armed Forces Bowl): Jeff Monken, Ahmad Bradshaw, Elijah Riley, Kell Walker

Army is the 2017 Armed Forces Bowl champions.

The Black Knights held on for a wild 42-35 win over San Diego State, pulling out its fourth game of the season in final seconds of regulation or overtime.

Kell Walker’s 2-point conversion run with 18 seconds left gave Army a 36-35 lead and Elijah Riley returned an errant San Diego State lateral 29 yards as time expired.

Here are some postgame comments from Army coach Jeff Monken, senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, sophomore slotback Kell Walker and sophomore cornerback Elijah Rile:

Jeff Monken

On going for two points and the lead: I talked to them (the offense) about what play do you feel best about. We talked about the belly play and we talked about the toss. The O-line said, ‘put it behind us. We’ll knock them off the ball and we will score.’ The toss had been such a good play all day. We felt good about it. Bryce (Holland, Army’s center) said, ‘you guys on the perimeter, that’s on you.’ That’s also the guard and tackle pulling (Brett Toth and Mike Houghton) to get that play to go. It had been a good play for us and we talked about a couple of different things and we felt like that was going to be the best one and sure enough we walked in with it.”

On the feeling of pulling out another game late: “It felt great. I’m just so happy for these guys. They have worked so hard and have overcome a lot. We are not the most talented team. We weren’t the most talented team today but we found a way to win and it was just a gutsy effort. Our guys are tough. They are tough. They are mentally tough. Even when it looked bleak from the stands, on the sideline, there was no wavering, just a steely-eyed gaze that we were going to find a way to get it done. Really. That’s what this team has. That’s the spirit of these guys.”

On Army making its fourth extra point on errant snap: “It probably went unnoticed but Zach Potter scooping that groundball snap on the PAT and getting it down, that was a huge play in the game. We would have been going for two to try to tie it up at that point.”

On overcoming special teams issue and Rashaad Penny’s 221 rushing yards to win the game: “That Rashaad Penny is just an incredible player. That was part of deal in the two-point decision. I didn’t want to go to overtime and have them be able to hand him the ball again. He’s just a great player…and special teams, I’m frankly embarrassed about the way we cover kicks and kicked the ball at times. Just very, very poor. But, we overcame it. Again, it wasn’t anybody hanging their head and saying, ‘Woo is me,’ we figured out a way to overcome it.”

On bowl game win nearly completely six goals set by team in August: “Only one left is to finish in Top 25. Hopefully, the people who vote will find us worthy.”

On backing up the goal set this season: “That’s why you set goals. You set goals that you hope are attainable. Sometimes, it might seem a little bit lofty when you stare up there in August and you guys come into the press conference and think, ‘Huh, I’ve seen those before.’ The fact is that we did accomplish them and we can. It’s OK to have lofty goals.”

Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw

On ending season with win: “It was very emotional. It was exciting. All those emotions you can think of. We had to drive down like we had in a bunch of games and score a touchdown. Coach trusted in us and we believed in ourselves and that’s all it took.”

Sophomore cornerback Elijah Riley

On what he was thinking when he crossed the goal line on game-ending 29-yard return: ”I couldn’t breath because everyone started surrounding me. It was a great feeling. I was so happy that we were able to send the seniors out with not only a 10-win season but being the second team in Army history to do it. I’m so proud of those guys. They really instilled a winning culture back into this program.”

On how the team never lost faith that it could pull game out: “Everyone kept a level head and knew there a lot of the fourth quarter left in this game. We’re fourth quarter Warriors and when we get to the fourth quarter, we are not giving up.  We’re going to go tooth and nail and do whatever it takes to get that win.”

Sophomore slotback Kell Walker 
On his go-ahead two-point run: “We knew we had to go for two to win. Our offensive line actually called the play and said, ‘let’s go Oregon and get the ball into Kell’s hands and let’s go for the win.’  They trusted that I would do my job and they knew for sure that they were going to do their job. The offensive line played a heck of a game and they just blocked and executed well and that allowed me to get into the end zone.

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    Sal Interdonato

    Award-winning writer Sal Interdonato has been on the Army football beat since 2007. He'll take you inside the huddle and into the lives of the Black Knights. Read Full
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