Louisiana Tech capped off a very successful season on Friday with a 48-45 win over Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl. Jonathan Barnes kicked a 32 yard field goal to win the game as time expired. Ryan Higgins and Trent Taylor put on a clinic in Fort Worth, Texas for the Bulldogs. The reeling Midshipmen have now lost 3 straight, including their rivalry game against Army.
Higgins threw for 409 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Taylor absorbed 12 catches for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns. At first, Taylor might seem like your ordinary college student, as he stands at 5 foot 8. However, he has turned into Higgins’ favorite target. Another receiver on the team, Carlos Henderson, has immense talent. He caught 10 balls for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns as well.
However, Navy didn’t go down without a fight. After losing their quarterback, Will Worth, in the AAC championship, Zach Abey drew the start. Navy runs a triple option offense geared more towards the running game, but Abey managed 159 yards, including a 64 yard touchdown to Darryl Bonner. Abey also led the team in rushing with 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. They have now dropped 3 straight games; to Army, Temple in the AAC championship, and now Louisiana Tech.
Louisiana Tech got off to a fast start. Higgins had a 1 yard plunge 1:30 into the game. Then, after a fumble by Abey, Barnes kicked a 22 yard field goal to open up a 10-0 lead. However, the Bulldogs came back, with Higgins tossing a 19 yard touchdown to Trent Taylor at the end of the first quarter.
The offensive fireworks were just beginning. On the first play of the second quarter, Abey hit Darryl Bonner for a 64 yard touchdown to make it 17-14. After a punt by Louisiana Tech, Abey had a 3 yard touchdown run to get the lead for the Midshipmen.
Another touchdown, this time to Henderson, gave the Bulldogs the lead again at 24-21. On the ensuing Navy possession, Bennett Moehring kicked a 40 yard field goal to knot it up at 24.
A 51 yard touchdown to Taylor, his second, made it 31-24 going into the half. Navy had a long drive to start the second half, driving 90 yards and capping it off with a 24 yard touchdown by Chris High to tie it up.
A fumble by Jarred Craft deep into Navy territory derailed a great drive by Louisiana Tech, but Navy was unable to take advantage. Boston Scott had a 12 yard touchdown run to make the lead 38-31, but another Navy response, a 9 yard touchdown run by Chris High, knotted it up yet again.
Higgins tossed his fourth touchdown and his second to Henderson to make it 45-38, but Navy came right back with a 30 yard touchdown run by Malcolm Perry. With 3:46 left, Louisiana Tech got the ball and never gave it back. They drove down the field and got Barnes into position to take a 32 yard field goal.
It went through the uprights, giving Louisiana Tech the win, 48-45. They end their season 9-5. Navy dropped their last three games of the year to drop to 10-4 on the season. Both coaches had successful seasons and both have a good chance of winning their conference next year.
Next up: The off-season for both teams.