As the final seconds ticked off the clock of a monumental Army win, senior Connor Finucane crossed paths with Jeff Monken.
The player and coach shared a hug and the celebration could begin. It seemed fitting that Finucane, Army’s offensive captain and three-year starter on the offensive line, would be one of the first players that Monken would see.
It was Finucane, Army’s offensive line and the running of quarterback Bryson Daily that set the tone for the Black Knights’ 23-3 upset victory over No. 17 Air Force. Daily raced 62 yards for a touchdown on the game’s fourth play.
“I think it was our best week of preparation as an entire offense,” Finucane said. “It was the first time that we came together as an unit since Texas-San Antonio (Sept. 15). We really executed all phases in what we wanted to do.
“We did throw the ball a lot today. We kept the ball on the ground, which was part of the game plan. That was huge to get an explosive play for our offense. I thought today the offensive line, tight ends, lead blockers and Bryson played really hard.”
Running mostly behind the right side of Finucane and guard Lucas Scott, Daily set an academy record for carries by quarterback with 36. Daily had the ball in his hand for 45 plays (9 passes), 75 percent of Army’s 60 snaps.
Army coach Jeff Monken said the last time he remembered one of his quarterbacks running 36 times was when he was at Georgia Southern with Jaybo Shaw in the 2010 FCS playoffs against William & Mary.
“He (Daily) just put the team on his back,” Monken said. “He’s just a tough kid. You can hit him with a sledgehammer 36 times and he’ll get back up and (say) ‘take another swing.’ That’s just who he is. I think that’s who our team is. I think that’s who the United States Army is. They are tough people.”
Daily’s 170 rushing yards were the most by an Army player against Air Force since Ahmad Bradshaw’s 265 in a 21-0 win in 2017.
“It was a great day,” Daily said. “The offensive line did a heck of a job blocking. (I was) running in big holes and it made my job easier.”