Barnes Caps Off Magical Night for Bulldogs
Dec. 23, 2016
FORT WORTH, Texas - Jonathan Barnes’ 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Louisiana Tech the storybook ending it deserved and clinched the Bulldogs’ third consecutive bowl championship over No. 25 Navy Friday in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
Tied 45-45 with under four minutes to play, the junior kicker’s game-winning field goal capped off a wild back-and-forth affair between the Bulldogs and Midshipmen that ended up coming down to the final three seconds in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Louisiana Tech recorded its third straight 9-win season to end the 2016 campaign 9-5 overall. Navy fell to 9-5 on the year in the loss.
The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards Friday night in Fort Worth with the Bulldogs edging the Midshipmen with 497 yards of total offense.
“To come in here and beat a No. 25 team like Navy is big for our program,” head coach Skip Holtz said. “It took us a while to get going offensively, and we had some sacks early, but Jarred Craft got our running game going and opened up the pass. This was a tremendous win, and everyone contributed. I’m proud of this team, and that was a really clutch kick to win it by Jonathan (Barnes) to get the win.”
Ryan Higgins set new bowl records for completions as the senior ended the night 29-of-40 passing for 409 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
Trent Taylor earned Armed Forces Bowl MVP honors with 12 receptions for 233 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The senior receiver broke bowl records for receptions and receiving yards in a game on his way to leading LA Tech to a third straight bowl title.
In what ended up being the quickest start to a game in the history of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson showed off his speed against No. 25 Navy on an 82-yard return on the opening kickoff and the Bulldogs never slowed down from that point.
Henderson’s shifty return set up Ryan Higgins’ quarterback keeper for a 7-0 lead for the Bulldogs in what became the fastest touchdown scored in bowl history less than 90 seconds into the game.
Henderson ended the night with 266 all-purpose yards with 129 receiving, 137 kick return yards and two touchdown receptions in the victory.
On Navy’s first offensive possession, the Midshipmen gave Louisiana Tech an early Christmas gift by fumbling the football, which was recovered by Prince Sam to set up Jonathan Barnes’ 22-yard field goal to extend LA Tech’s lead to 10.
Midway through the first, the Midshipmen settled in and forced a LA Tech punt, which set up an 8-play, 55-yard drive by Navy to cut the lead the three with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Zach Abey.
The Bulldogs responded on the next drive when Higgins had a hand in the second touchdown of the day for LA Tech with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Trent Taylor to put Tech up 17-7 over Navy with just 18 seconds left in the first quarter.
Navy had an answer on the first play of the second quarter as Abey completed a 64-yard touchdown pass to Darryl Bonner to cut the Midshipmen’s deficit to 17-14.
The Midshipmen took their first lead of the game on the next drive thanks to Abey’s efforts on the ground after a 30-yard rush, facemask penalty against the Bulldogs and then a 2-yard quarterback keeper gave Navy a 21-17 lead over LA Tech in the second.
Later in the first half, the Bulldog offense got its groove back a little bit with a 9-play, 65-yard drive that led to a 3-yard touchdown reception by Henderson to retake the lead over Navy, 24-21, midway through the second quarter of play.
After Navy tied it up at 24-24 thanks to a career-long 40-yard field goal by Barrett Moehring, Louisiana Tech answered with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Higgins to Taylor to send the Bulldogs into halftime with a 31-24 lead over the Midshipmen.
Navy opened the second half with a 14-play drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock and spanned 90 yards before knotting the game at 31-31 with a 24-yard rushing touchdown by Chris High.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, LA Tech drove 70 yards down the field on a drive that included a 41-yard reception by Taylor over the middle to set up Boston Scott’s 12-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 38-31 lead over Navy.
Navy’s Chris High tied the game, 38-38, midway through the fourth with a 9-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, but Carlos Henderson once again took the stage later in the quarter to give Louisiana Tech another lead.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Henderson caught his second touchdown of the night, both coming on fade routes on crucial third down conversions, to give the Bulldogs a 7-point lead in the final quarter.
Navy responded quickly with the game-tying touchdown, a 30-yard rushing score by Malcolm Perry to knot the game, 45-45, before LA Tech orchestrated a 9-play, 70-yard game-winning drive that took the final 3:40 off the clock.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow Louisiana Tech on social media at @LATechFB (Twitter), /LATechFootball (Facebook) and @LATechFB (Instagram) or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
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