By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange
FORT WORTH, Texas — Jonathan Barnes kicked a 32-yard field goal on the game’s final play as Louisiana Tech outlasted Navy 48-45 on Friday in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University.
Ryan Higgins passed for four touchdowns and 409 yards, 57 of those on the Bulldogs’ final drive to set the table for Barnes’ winning kick.
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FORT WORTH, TX - DECEMBER 23: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins (14) scores on a 1 yard run during the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl between the Navy Midshipmen and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on December 23, 2016, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)
Higgins hit Trent Taylor, who had an Armed Forces Bowl record of 233 receiving yards on 12 catches, on touchdowns from 19 and 51 yards away, found Carlos Henderson for a 3-yard scoring hookup and ran 1-yard for another score in the first half as Louisiana Tech (9-4) garnered a 31-24 lead.
Navy (9-6), which was playing to earn back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history, countered with quarterback Zach Abey’s two rushing touchdowns, from 3 and 2 yards, respectively, and his 64-yard scoring pass to Darryl Bonner prior to halftime.
The Midshipmen used the first 7:02 of the third quarter to maneuver 90 yards for the tying touchdown, which came via a 24-yard scoring run by Chris High on the 14th play of the possession. Scott Boston’s 12-yard touchdown run with 13:10 to play pushed Louisiana Tech back to the seven-point lead.
High allowed Navy to tie the contest again with a 9-yard scoring run with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. That’s when Higgins and Henderson went back to work, first drawing a crucial pass interference plenty against Navy’s Jarid Ryan and then making an acrobatic 4-yard scoring catch from behind the Midshipmen’s Tyris Wooten to produce Louisiana Tech’s and the game’s final points
Freshman quarterback Malcolm Perry tied the game with 3:46 to play with a 30-yard touchdown run on his first snap in relief of Abey, who was injured on a roughing-the-passer penalty by the Bulldogs’ Jordan Bradford. After a review by replay officials, Bradford ejected for targeting. But that left too much time for Louisiana Tech and Higgins.
Abey led Navy with 273 total yards, 159 passing and 114 on the ground on 25 carries.