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Bulldogs win shootout in Fort Worth

January 13, 2017

 

 

The football team hoists the Armed Forces Bowl trophy high after the win over Navy. – Photo courtesy of Tom Morris / LATechSportsPix.com

The football team hoists the Armed Forces Bowl trophy high after the win over Navy. – Photo by Donny Crowe

Alex Heard
Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

 

FORT WORTH, Texas If only Michael Jackson could have been around for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl — because it was a thriller.

 

The Louisiana Tech football team defeated No. 25 Navy in a shootout, 48-45.

 

Both teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense as the game went back and forth, making it clear that whichever team had the ball last looked destined to win.

 

Tech turned out to be that team as it orchestrated a nine play, 70-yard game-winning drive which took 3:40 off the clock.

 

It seemed fitting as Mr. Reliable, senior receiver Trent Taylor, who broke Tech’s all-time reception record this season, broke off a big gain to put Tech in field goal range to try to get a kick off as time expired. Jonathan Barnes, junior kicker, was able to do just that as he nailed a 32-yard game winner.

 

Skip Holtz, head coach at Tech, said the win was no small feat.

 

“Excellent win would be an understatement,” Holtz said. “There were so many things we were trying to accomplish with this week. One, we came off the end of the season where we lost our final two games of the season.”

 

Holtz said the performance of the seniors in the game indicates how truly special that class is.

 

“With this senior class, I mean, they have done so many incredible things,” Holtz said. “We talked about what this class could accomplish, being the first class ever to go to three bowl games in a row. We only have five Div. I bowl wins in our school history. This senior class owns three of them. They go out as one of the winningest classes in school history. With this win, three nine win seasons in a row. Just unbelievable. I could go on and on and on about what they accomplished. That’s why this game was so big to us. We wanted to send the seniors out the right way.”

 

Barnes said it was the biggest kick of his career.

 

“(It) probably (was) just because of the seniors that are on this team,” Barnes said. “A bunch of guys I came in with and it means a lot to be able to send them out the right way. It’s definitely fitting for them to go out this way and something they deserve because the four years we put in here together has been incredible.”

 

Holtz said Barnes had the utmost confidence that he would make the kick and his kicking got better from Week One.

 

“For Jonathan, to make a field goal, as I said to him, I went to him and I said, Hey, relax. You got this. He said, ‘Coach, you put it right where we kick it for pregame warm-up every day. This one will be easy,’” Holtz said. “And he put it through the uprights. As I told him, we started the season with a miss from 39 yards that went off the upright, that left a little bit of all of us in Fayetteville, Arkansas, that day with an opportunity to win that game. But he came back and won seven games in a row without missing a kick. And if you have got a game winner, there’s nobody else I rather put on the line than Jonathan Barnes. I trust our snapper and our holder, but I was more concerned about the snap and the hold and the protection than I was the kick. I knew if he got the kick off, I felt really confident it was going through the uprights.”

 

Tech may lose key seniors and contributors from the 2016 bunch which may lead some to be skeptical about the 2017 season. But keep in mind that there was skepticism at the beginning of this season about how production from last year would be replaced and look at the result; so In Skip We Trust. 

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