By Zach Walker
On a muggy, murky day at Amon Carter, the Bulldogs and the Midshipmen had a great clash on the grass. After being led into the game by one of the best vocalizations of the National Anthem I’ve witnessed, a 91 year old veteran of Iwo Jima, the action started quickly. Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson returned the opening kickoff to the Navy sixteen yard line. Four plays later, the quarterback Ryan Higgins ran the ball in from a yard out. Navy had a curious case of the fumbles early in the game, dribbling their first kick return, then fumbling a few plays later to LA Tech. Navy would hold Tech to just a field goal, then three and out on offense. The Navy defense would respond, in kind, to the Tech offense. The Midshipmen would have a solid drive, with the quarterback Zach Abey hitting on only one of his three throws, but the completed pass put the ball inside the five yard line of Tech, and he’d punctuate his own drive with a touchdown slam from about a yard out. I‘ll tell you, that you’ll be seeing Trent Taylor make a training camp roster, and likely stick, because he is just an extremely dangerous weapon. Crisp routes, then burst speed. His endzone trip, off of a screen pass, was a great showcase of his talents. Catch the pass in the flat, then explode around the edge, tear up the sideline for nineteen yards, and end in the endzone. The rain started as the second quarter did, and Zach Abey added a drop of his own, with a pass down Main Street, straight down the center of the field to Darryl Bonner for a sixty-four yard touchdown pass. The Navy kept the tap on, forcing Tech off of the field, then going back to work on offense, scoring in just three plays after being aided by a facemask penalty. The Midshipmen kicked a short kickoff, which originally looked like a big play their way, with a recovery or Navy, but without replay aide, the referees got the call correct awarding rightful possession of the ball to LA Tech, having determined that the Navy player touched the ball while out of bounds. The referees would continue to be not helping the Navy side, flagging them correctly for two personal fouls on the drive, making up twenty-one yards that LA Tech wouldn’t have to claw for. The Higgins to Henderson connection made a spectacular appearance, with a three yard fade while in solo man coverage, and had a six point result and the lead back for LA Tech. Navy would tie the game at 24 with just over two minutes left in the first half. Louisiana Tech had no intention of having the game tied as they parted from the field. Eighty-three yards in six plays, and in just eighty-two seconds, with the score coming from a Higgins pass right down Main Street of the Navy defense to Trent Taylor for a fifty-one yard score, to make the game LA Tech 31 to Navy’s 24 as the first half closed.
Navy opened the second half with a very molasses drive. A fifteen play drive, which was even handicapped with a holding call to start the ball at their own ten yard line, and the Midshipmen drove ninety yards in a tick over seven minutes, spending two timeouts, to knot the score once more at 31 apiece. Louisiana Tech would get lucky by recovering a fumble by Trent Taylor, after being walloped from the blindside while making moves in the open field, but later in the drive, in the redzone they wouldn’t be so lucky. Tech’s Jarred Craft would fumble the ball over to the Midshipmen. Navy would burn their final timeout of the game with a minute left in the third, and call an uninspiring QB boot that gained nothing on third down. Tech would redeem their redzone rushing attack with a solid right hand draw by Boston Scott from twenty yards out, to put themselves back up by seven. But, Navy just would not go away. Another solid ten play drive, covering three-quarters of the field (Seventy-five yards) ending with a nine yard run up the gut by Chris High to re-tie this turkey shoot. The Bulldogs would dodge a bullet for a very weak pass interference penalty on the Navy corner Jarid Ryan, that yes did turn him a smig, but did not impede any routing or pull the hands, then came up with the ball in the endzone, but after that penalty the game was charged. Tackles by Navy looked like it came with a side of emphatic disposition for the call that kept them on the field. Three plays after the penalty, Higgins connected with Henderson again for that deadly fade. On the kickoff, LA Tech’s Michael Mims absolutely bulldogged a Navy coverage man, and drew a fifteen yard penalty. Next play, Abey laid a pretty sweet pass completed by Darryl Bonner, but was buried by Jordan Bradford and was forced from the game, with four minutes left, later upgraded to a targeting penalty with an ejection. Looked like a solid hit. After that debacle, the next play, Navy’s new quarterback ran thirty yards to tie the game AGAIN! This time, at 45. Louisiana Tech had great clock management in the end, and drove a great distance of seventy yards to get into a manageable field goal situation. The final drive for Louisiana Tech took almost four minutes. Had Navy not messed around in the third quarter, and blown all three timeouts, they could have potentially had some time on the backend for another rebuttal. What a great game though. One that truly played like the teams emptied the tanks on each other, and gave it everything they had to give.
FINAL SCORE: Louisiana Tech 48 – Navy 45