American Football Database
1988 John Hancock Sun Bowl
1 2 3 4 Total
United States Military Academy 7 7 14 0 28
University of Alabama 3 10 7 9 29
Date December 24, 1988
Season 1988
Stadium Sun Bowl Stadium
Location El Paso, Texas
MVP David Smith, Alabama QB
Derrick Thomas, Alabama LB
Attendance 48,719
Sun Bowl
 < 1987  1989

The 1988 John Hancock Sun Bowl, part of the 1988 bowl game season, took place on December 24, 1988, at the Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Army Black Knights, competing as a football independent. The game put Alabama's air attack against Army's ground attack, and ended with Alabama just edging past Army in the fourth quarter to win the game 29–28.



The 1988 Alabama squad finished the regular season with an 8–3 record and losses against Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn. The appearance marked the third for Alabama in the Sun Bowl, and their 41st overall bowl game appearance.


The 1988 Army squad finished the regular season with a record of 10–2 with losses coming against Washington and Boston College. The appearance in the Sun Bowl marked the first for Army in the game, and their fourth overall bowl game appearance.

Game summary

The Black Knights opened the scoring with a one-yard Mike Mayweather touchdown run to take a 7–0 lead.[1] The Crimson Tide responded with a 37-yard Philip Doyle field goal co cut the lead to 7–3 at the end of the first.[1] In the second quarter, Army again scored on the run with Bryan McWilliams reaching the endzone on a 30-yard run.[1] Alabama again responded with a 22-yard Philip Doyle field goal and a 7-yard Marco Battle touchdown reception from David Smith to close the gap to 14–13 at the half.[1] Army went into halftime with a 14–13 lead by putting up 232 yards on the ground.

Alabama put together a 69-yard drive to take its first lead 20–14 in the game half way through the third quarter on a 23-yard Greg Payne touchdown reception.[1] Army answered with another touchdown on the next drive to take the lead back at 21-20. On Alabama's next drive David Smith was intercepted by Army's O'Neal Miller who returned it 57 yards for a touchdown and a 28-20 lead. In the fourth quarter Alabama put together two scoring drives for a 32-yard Doyle field goal and a 2-yard David Casteal run to regain the lead at 29–28.[2]

Army put up 350 yards on the ground against Alabama's 5th-ranked defense that gave up less than 100 yards per game on average during the season. Army Coach Jim Young said about the game “Alabama was one of the better teams in the country. We played them and beat them in everything except the score."[3] The El Paso Times ranks this game 11th among the top Sun Bowl games ever.[2]

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring Information Score
Plays Yards TOP Army Alabama
1 12:04 7 plays, 70 yards 2:56 Army Mike Mayweather 1-yard touchdown run, Keith Walker kick good 7 0
1 1:25 14 plays, 65 yards 4:30 Alabama 37-yard field goal by Philip Doyle 7 3
2 14:02 6 plays, 69 yards 2:23 Army Bryan McWilliams 30-yard touchdown run, Keith Walker kick good 14 3
2 7:33 11 plays, 67 yards 6:29 Alabama 22-yard field goal by Philip Doyle 14 6
2 0:35 8 plays, 76 yards Alabama Marco Battle 7-yard touchdown reception from David Smith, Philip Doyle kick good 14 13
3 4:23 8 plays, 69 yards 2:50 Alabama Greg Payne 23-yard touchdown reception from David Smith, Philip Doyle kick good 14 20
3 1:22 6 plays, 69 yards 2:50 Army Mike Mayweather 3-yard touchdown run, Keith Walker kick good 21 20
3 0:07 1 play, 57 yards Army Interception returned 57 yards for touchdown by O'Neal Miller, Keith Walker kick good 28 20
4 7:25 12 plays, 49 yards 4:12 Alabama 22-yard field goal by Philip Doyle 28 23
4 4:01 5 plays, 54 yards 2:16 Alabama David Casteal 2-yard touchdown run, 2-point run failed 28 29
"TOP" = Time of Possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 28 29


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Hurt, Cecil (December 25, 1988). "Smith rallies Tide in Sun". The Tuscaloosa News: p. 1B. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Best of the Sun Bowl: #11". El Paso Times. November 19, 2006. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  3. "Black Knight Flashback: 1988". Army Athletic Communications. October 29, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2011.