In the Armed Forces Bowl, the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Tulsa Golden Hurricane came prepared for battle. Both teams did just that for four quarters with the Bulldogs prevailing 28-26. But what will be remembered most is what immediately happened after the game when one of the worst brawls in college football history broke out and left a Tulsa player seriously injured.
Mississippi State defeats Tulsa in chippy Armed Forces Bowl
The Mississippi State Bulldogs entered the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl with a 3-7 record. They faced the No. 24-ranked Tulsa Golden Hurricane, who came into the contest with a 6-2 record.
Under cold and rainy conditions in Fort Worth, Texas, both teams struggled in the first half to string together any consistency on offense. Mississippi State led 7-6 going into halftime.
In the second half, both offenses came to life, with the Bulldogs scoring a couple of touchdowns and taking a 21-13 lead into the fourth quarter. In the final quarter, Tulsa responded with some offense of its own, rallying back, but ultimately coming up short, 28-26.
Mississippi State’s victory was the school’s first bowl win over a ranked opponent since a 1941 Orange Bowl victory over No. 13 Georgetown.
All hell breaks loose at conclusion of Armed Forces Bowl
At the game’s conclusion, despite some chippiness during the pregame and game itself, both Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach and Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery met at midfield and appeared cordial when shaking hands. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then chaos ensued.
ESPN interrupted its post-game highlights and returned to the Armed Forces Bowl, where cameras showed players from both teams congregating near midfield on the Tulsa sideline. It appeared to be mostly talking, pushing, and shoving, which had also taken place before the game.
Redshirt freshman Mississippi State linebacker Demonte Russell, who was in street clothes, threw the first attempted punch. Tulsa senior safety Cristian Williams immediately responded with a punch. As coaches frantically tried to calm the situation, several few feet away, Mississippi State linebacker Aaron Brule threw another punch.
At that point, players from both teams started exchanging blows. In the melee, Tulsa’s Tieneal Martin, who was throwing shots left and right, fell down on the sideline, where he was then viciously kicked in the shoulder by Mississippi State’s Malik Heath, who then ran away. Martin also had his helmet ripped off and took several blows to the head by multiple Bulldogs players.
Tulsa player seriously injured
Near the 12-yard-line, another skirmish broke out and that’s where Tulsa safety Kendarin Ray was seen going into a pile and disappearing under a sea of maroon jerseys.
When all the players were unpiled, Ray appeared to be seriously injured and had to be assisted off the field by two members of the Tulsa staff. According to ESPN sideline reporter Ian Fitzsimmons, Tulsa’s leading tackler was being helped off the field because he was having trouble breathing.
“It is nasty. It is not a good scene at all right now when it comes to the hard-hitting safety from Tulsa, and he was in the middle of that melee that just happened.”
According to various reports, Ray was being examined by medical staff for a concussion after reportedly being struck in the head with a helmet.
It was undoubtedly a terrible way for both squads to close out the year and end the 2020 season. But in the end, it was very 2020.