As the first of DFW's three college football bowl games, the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl drew a crowd of 39,246 to watch the Navy Midshipmen earn a 24-6 victory over Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Amon Carter Stadium on the TCU campus. This was the 11th edition of the annual postseason game that began Dec. 23, 2003 as the Fort Worth Bowl with a Boise St. 34-31 win over TCU and has developed into a week-long event recognizing all five branches of the service.
The teams arrived on Thursday with Navy becoming the third service academy to play in the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force has made four trips, including a 47-20 win over Houston in 2009 and Army defeated SMU 16-14 in the 2010 game.
The Kickoff Luncheon took place Friday at noon at the Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth featuring 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach as the keynote speaker. Staubach, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame from his time at Navy, would go on to win two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Past speakers include Washington Redskins and Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theissman, Air Force and Dallas Cowboys defensive end Chad Hennings and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
During the luncheon that doubled as a press conference, Staubach fielded questions about current Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who had back surgery earlier that morning and also spoke of his days playing on Navy base football teams. Brandon McCoy, a senior defensive end at North Texas, was recognized during the luncheon for receiving the Armed Forces Merit Award that was presented to him on Veteran's Day by the Football Writers Association of America.
Each team attended a comedy event at Four Day Weekend in Sundance Square on Friday evening and visited Cook Children's Medical Center on Saturday afternoon. Sunday evening from 6-7, members of both teams were in Sundance Square Plaza for the bowl games' pep rally.
When kickoff arrived Monday at 10:45 a.m., the temperature hovered in the mid-30s. While many fans were outside the stadium in the Armed Forces Adventure Area in the spot known as 'Frog Alley' during TCU home games, those inside were treated to the All-Veteran Parachute Team who skydived into the stadium just prior to the start of the game.
As for the game itself, Navy's triple-option offense, led by sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds controlled the contest while amassing 366 yards on the ground. The Midshipmen finished their season with five consecutive wins. Middle Tennessee State dropped to 8-5 on the season with their first defeat since Oct. 12 against North Texas.
Next up for DFW college football fans is the Heart of Dallas Bowl featuring UNLV vs. North Texas on New Year's Day at 11 a.m. at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. The AT&T Cotton Bowl wraps up the action with Oklahoma State vs. Missouri on Friday night at AT&T Stadium.
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