WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) You could describe Army and backup quarterback A.J. Schurr with the same terms on Saturday: hobbled, sometimes ugly, but victorious.
Coach Jeff Monken says masterpiece or not, that’s all that matters in the end.
Schurr, who himself missed some practice time because of injuries this week, came off the bench to run for two touchdowns and threw for the winning score to help scuffling Army to a 21-14 win over Bucknell.
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Schurr connected with Edgar Poe, who won an underthrown jump ball over Nick O’Brien and ran all the way to the end zone for a 68-yard score, to put Army up with 4:44 left. Chris Carnegie intercepted R.J. Nitti on Bucknell’s ensuing drive to clinch it.
”I think we could’ve played a lot better, but as ugly as it was, it still counts the same in the win column, and that’s what we need,” said second-year coach Monken, whose team came back from a halftime deficit for the first time in his tenure, improving to 1-8 when down at the break.
Following a 44-3 rout by Duke last week, Army (2-5) won at home for the first time this season despite trailing at halftime 14-7. It might not have been a happy ending without Poe’s grab.
”It’s kind of like a grade school play,” Schurr said. ”Edgar made a heck of a play.”
Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who missed two weeks with an ankle injury, got off to a hot start, rushing for 28 yards before he was shaken up on a quarterback keeper. He left with 7:35 to go in the first and didn’t return.
Monken said Bradshaw will have an MRI on his shoulder.
Schurr, a senior, was picked off over the middle by Connor Golden on his first snap. The 6-foot safety corralled the floater with one hand. Golden finished with 13 tackles.
”Our teammates did their jobs, we just had a couple slipups,” Golden said. ”That’s all it took, apparently.”
Nitti completed six of his first eight attempts and finished the first half with 135 yards passing and two touchdowns.
His counterpart struggled by comparison – until late.
Throwing into triple coverage near midfield on third down, Schurr was picked off again by a diving Golden, setting Bucknell up on the 44 with 6:10 left in the first half.
Two plays later, Nitti connected with Will Carter, who managed to stay inbounds along the left sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. Bucknell led 6-0 after Jordan Smith blocked the extra point.
Army answered to take a 7-6 lead with 1:52 left in the half. After a Schurr fumble was overturned on review, he found an open Poe for 25 yards, his first completion. Schurr ran in from the 3 on the next play.
”It was a really gritty performance,” Monken said.
With Bucknell facing fourth-and-17 and running out of time before the break, Nitti hooked up with Bobby Kaslander for a 27-yard pass, then completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Owers with 26 seconds left in the half.
A 2-point conversion gave Bucknell a 14-7 lead at the break.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Schurr capped a 12-play, 72-yard drive and tied it with 1:43 to go in the third.
”There is no solace in losing a game,” Bucknell coach Joe Susan said. ”It was Army’s passing game that created the explosive plays to change the score.”
Early in the second quarter, Bucknell seemed poised to score first but had to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt. A low snap allowed John Voit to record Army’s first blocked field goal in six years.
Army had three more fumbles after dropping 14 over its past two games.
The Bison, who committed 14 penalties for 105 yards, are still looking for their first win against the FBS. It was Bucknell’s first game against an FBS team since 2001. Facing Army for the first time in 20 years, the Bison fell to 0-6 in a series that started in 1900.
”We had a silent cadence this week because of the crowd noise, and I guess the adjustment to that caused some problems,” Nitti said.