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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Live coverage of the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl

This is periodically updated coverage of the Houston Cougars in the 2015 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl as they face off with the Pittsburgh Panthers.


Junior linebacker Trevon Stewart played a huge role in Houston’s shut down of Pittsburgh’s ground game. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

First Quarter

The Houston defense took the field first as Pittsburgh elected to receive, allowing the Cougars to get an early feel for the Panthers’ offense. Pittsburgh was forced to punt after Houston shut them down through a nearly four-minute drive.

The Cougars started their opening drive from the 10-yard line and established a strong rushing game from the first play. Six straight rushing plays totaled 63 yards for the Cougars, but a costly false start penalty to put Houston out of field goal range led to a punt.

The Panthers answered back with short, hard runs and quick passes to drive from their eight-yard line to the Cougars’ nine-yard line. After 83 yards and six and a half minutes, the first quarter came to a scoreless close.

Second Quarter

The Panthers opened the second quarter on the Cougars’ nine-yard line and were the first to score in the Armed Forces Bowl with three strong runs. Pittsburgh went up 7-0 after finishing their second drive in 15 plays, 92 yards and seven minutes. The drive is tied for the longest drive in Armed Forces Bowl history.

The Cougars would start at their own 20-yard line but failed to make anything of their second drive as they were forced to punt after going three-and-out. Houston defense would come out to make sure Pittsburgh couldn’t take advantage of the setback as they held the Panthers to three downs and a punt.

Houston continued to put faith in the ground game as they ran four run plays for two first downs, despite another false start penalty and a dropped pass from junior receiver Deontay Greenberry. Junior running back Kenneth Farrow picked up the third first down for the Cougars to set up huge 20-yard run from sophomore quarterback Greg Ward Jr.

A 10-yard pass to junior running back Ryan Jackson, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Pittsburgh and  two direct snaps to Farrow put Houston on the board trailing by one after junior kicker Kyle Bullard slipped on the extra point attempt.

Although the Houston defense kept the Pittsburgh ground game contained, the Panthers aerial attack started to get the best of the Cougars. A pass interference penalty on junior Houston corner William Jackson set up 17-, 10- and 13-yard passes from sophomore Pittsburgh quarterback Chad Voytik. The Panthers increased their lead to 14-6 with 1:27 left in the second quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run, and then to 17-6 after a 52-yard field goal, the longest in Armed Forces Bowl history, in the half’s final seconds.

Third Quarter

The Cougars received the kickoff to start the third quarter and kept with the rushing game plan, but started out slow as their first drive resulted in a punt. Farrow achieved a milestone on the drive as he reached the 1,000 yards mark on the season, as well as approaching the 2,000 yards mark for his career.

Pittsburgh then slowly made their way down the field to cover 90 yards with a 6:50 drive ending in a touchdown to put the Panthers up 24-6. The Cougars once again failed to reach the red zone with their regained possession as the Panthers’ pass defense denied three pass attempts to force another Houston punt.

Pittsburgh continued to peel apart the Houston defense as they ground their way down the field 62 yards taking up the third quarter’s final 4:17 and setting them up on the Houston 15-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

Pittsburgh started the fourth quarter in the red zone and took advantage of the tiring Houston offense to pick up another touchdown with a five-yard rush from James Conner, his second touchdown of the day, pulling ahead 31-6. The Cougars weren’t finished yet, however, as they came out strong in their first fourth quarter drive covering 82 yards with an eight-yard touchdown run from Farrow to lessen the deficit 31-13.

The Panthers wouldn’t let the Cougars’ advances go unanswered. The Pittsburgh offense continued to apply consistent pressure to the Houston defense, as it had all game, and made it back into Houston territory on the 11-yard line. The Cougars kept the Panthers from putting up another touchdown, but the Panthers went up 34-13 after a 29-yard field goal.

Farrow and senior receiver Markeith Ambles showed the Cougars weren’t giving up anytime soon as Farrow split the middle of the field for 43-yards, followed by a connection between Ward and Ambles for 32 yards. The two monster plays set the Cougars up on the Panthers’ seven-yard line and, with a seven-yard pass to junior receiver Deontay Greenberry, the score moved to 34-20.

Houston took a chance with just under four minutes left in the game and recovered their onside kick to give them possession again on their own 48-yard line. Back to back passes to Ambles moved the Cougars up to the Panthers’ 25-yard line and a 29-yard fade to sophomore receiver Demarcus Ayers put the Cougars within seven at 34-27 with 1:58 left on the clock.

The Cougars came out after the touchdown and managed to grab another onside kick recovery, immediately followed by a 31-yard pass right up the middle to Greenberry. Ward then connected with Greenberry for another pass down the middle, this time for a 25-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion to put the Cougars up 35-34.

The Panthers made their way down to the 50 yard line and, after failing to convert on a fourth down with seven seconds left, the Houston Cougars won the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl.

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