DALLAS -- Jordan Asberry scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in overtime as Army outlasted North Texas 38-31 on Tuesday in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl before a sun-splashed crowd of 39,177 at the venerable Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
After Asberry's scoring run, the Army defense held North Texas without a first down, forcing a desperation pass from Alec Morris on fourth-and-9 that was batted away to secure the victory.
Army rolled the dice in overtime, opting to go for touchdown rather than a field goal on fourth down from the North Texas 3-yard line. But the gamble worked as Asberry took an option pitch and found his way into the end zone to give the Black Knights the lead.
Army (8-5) ran off nearly 10 1/2 minutes on a final fourth-quarter drive that began at its own 4-yard line and ended on a missed fourth-down conversion at the North Texas 30 with 2:18 to play. That was enough time for the Mean Green to move into field-goal range for Trevor Moore, whose 37-yard kick with 28 seconds to play in regulation tied the game at 31 and forced overtime.
Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 129 yards for Army, including a 65-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Darnell Woolfolk added 119 yards and two touchdowns for the Black Knights.
The eight wins are the most for Army since the 1996 team when it was 10-2.
North Texas (5-8) was led by Alec Morris's 304 yards and three touchdowns passing. The Mean Green earned a berth in the bowl game on the strength of its Academic Progress Rate when there were not enough 6-6 or better teams eligible for the postseason. Of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, North Texas ranked 10th in APR and was second among non-eligible teams.
Army scored on its first four possessions, getting a pair of touchdown runs from Darnell Woolfolk from 5 and 3 yards away, respectively, a rousing 70-yard TD dash by Tyler Campbell on a picture-perfect option pitch from Bradshaw and a 6-yard run up the middle by fullback Andy Davidson. Blake Wilson's extra-point kick after the first touchdown missed wide left, and the Black Knights failed on 2-point conversion attempts following the other three TDs but still earned a 24-7 lead.
North Texas responded after Woolfolk's first touchdown with a six-play, 66-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard scoring run from Wilson but the Mean Green were forced to punt on their next two possessions.
Wilson found the end zone again with 2:26 to play in the first half on a 22-yard catch from Morris. The touchdown cut Army's advantage to 24-14 and swung momentum into North Texas' favor for the first time.
North Texas moved even closer on its final possession of the first half, moving 68 yards in 1:40 to a 27-yard TD pass from Morris to Rico Bussey with 10 seconds remaining until intermission.
Army outgained North Texas 332-245 in the first half, with 294 of the Black Knights' yardage coming on the ground.
Bradshaw ripped off his 65-yard touchdown run on its first possession of the third quarter, pushing the Black Knights' lead to 31-21. The drive began at the Army 13-yard line after Elijah Riley's interception of Morris.
Army returned the favor late in the third quarter when Malik McGue muffed a punt that was recovered by North Texas' Kenny Buyers at the Black Knights' 18-yard line. On the ensuing snap, Morris found Tyler Wilson for a touchdown that brought the Mean Green to within 31-28.
NOTES: The two teams equally shared the payout of $1,667,000 for the game. ... This year marks the first time since 2010 that all three service academies are playing in the postseason. Navy lost to Louisiana Tech in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 and Air Force is in action on Dec. 30 in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl opposite South Alabama. ... This was the sixth all-time meeting between Army and North Texas and first in the postseason. The Black Knights hold a 5-1 series advantage since the first meeting in 1996. ... North Texas faced seven teams this year that are playing in postseason bowl games.