ATLANTA — Army surprised Illinois with a pair of halfback touchdown passes in Tuesday's 31-29 Peach Bowl victory on plays, Cadet Coach Jim Young said, were put into the offense just last week.
Army halfback William Lampley connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and Chris Jones duplicated that feat with a 26-yarder in the third period to trigger Army's victory over the error-plagued Illini.
"The halfback passes we ran today were put in in practice Thursday," said Young, who is 5-0 in bowl games. It was his second straight victory with Army, which made its first postseason appearance last year in a 10-6 victory over Michigan State in the Cherry Bowl.
Young, who also coached at Purdue, was asked why he tried the play twice.
"I wanted to make sure the other halfback (Jones) could throw the ball," he said with a laugh. It was the first collegiate passing attempt for Jones, a junior from Alexandria, Va.
Quarterback Rob Healy led the Army wishbone attack with 107 yards rushing, including a 22-yard touchdown run, and was voted the game's most outstanding offensive performer as he guided the Cadets' ground game to 291 yards on the rain-filled field of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
"I guarantee you they sure executed them well," Illinois Coach Mike White said of the two touchdown passes. "They were thrown by two different guys and caught by two different guys, and our coverage wasn't too bad."
Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass to All-American wide receiver David Williams with 34 seconds remaining to get the Illini within two points. But Trudeau's pass on the two-point conversion attempt was batted away by Army defender Peel Chronister to preserve the victory.
The Cadets (9-3) turned four Illinois turnovers into three touchdowns and Craig Stopa's 39-yard field goal in the victory over the 6-5-1 Illini, despite a record Peach Bowl passing performance by Trudeau.
Trudeau completed 38 of 55 passes for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns. The attempts, completions and yardage were all Peach Bowl records, while his three touchdown passes tied a Peach Bowl mark. The nationally televised game was played in a steady rain with temperatures in the mid-40s.
Army went ahead to stay at 28-23 late in the third period on an 81-yard, eight-play drive that ended when Healy pitched to Jones, who threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Scott Spellmon.
Stopa added his field goal with 6:40 remaining after a fumble by Illinois' Ray Wilson was recovered by Army at the Illini 42.
Illinois had taken the lead following the second-half kickoff by marching 79 yards in 15 plays, with Wilson plunging over from one yard out for a 23-21 lead.
But Lampley threw his 33-yarder to Benny White in the opening half and Doug Black had scored on a one-yard run and Healy on his 22-yarder to give the Cadets a 21-16 halftime lead.
Illinois' first-half scoring came on a 45-yard field goal by Chris White, the son of Illinois' head coach, and a pair of Trudeau touchdown passes.
The senior quarterback connected on strikes of one and 15 yards to tight end Cap Boso and Williams, respectively.
Army's strong safety Chronister, who was voted the game's most outstanding defensive performer, set up two of the Cadets' first-half scores with interceptions of Trudeau. The other came following a fumbled punt by Darryl Usher that was recovered by Army's Doug Pavek.