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2016 Armed Forces Bowl was a thriller as Louisiana Tech edges Navy

Jonathan Barnes kicked a game-ending 32-yard field goal and Louisiana Tech beat Navy 48-45 in the Armed Forces Bowl

Story By Deborah Leung Pointed Magazine Staff

Photo’s By Benjamin Rogers, Jr Pointed Magazine

Louisiana Tech beat Navy, 48-45, in an offense-packed Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday. Tech kicker Jonathan Barnes hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired to cap a really excellent bowl game.

The bowl was on 100-point watch for a while. The teams combined for 55 points in the first half, then treated us to one of the best finishes of the year.

Things got rowdy and wild at the end. Let’s run through how:

With six minutes to play, the score was tied at 38. Navy defensive back Jarid Ryan intercepted a pass in the end zone from Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins, but an official flagged Ryan for pass interference. It was an awfully close call.

Tech kept the ball. Three plays later, Tech receiver Carlos Henderson who’d been at the scene on the interference call swiped a touchdown ball away from Navy’s Tyris Wooten. Henderson’s brilliant catch sent La. Tech to a 45-38 lead.

On Navy’s ensuing possession, a brutal hit by Tech’s Jordan Bradford knocked Navy quarterback Zach Abey out of the game. Abey was already Navy’s third-string QB, having just debuted in the Army game earlier this month.

Bradford was ejected for targeting, probably because he led with the crown of his helmet. Abey left the game, but replacement Malcolm Perry ran for a 30-yard touchdown on his first play in relief. The score was tied at 45.

But Louisiana Tech got the ball back with 3:40 left to play. It always felt like whoever had the ball last would win, and that’s what happened. Tech’s field goal drive sealed it. Abey was healthy enough to return, ESPN reported, but didn’t get the chance.

This was the Armed Forces Bowl’s 14th year and the eighth time the game featured one of the service academies. Both Navy and Tech lost conference championship games beforehand Navy to Temple, which landed at the Military Bowl, and Tech to Western Kentucky, which landed at the Boca Raton Bowl.

It wasn’t a perfect season for either team, obviously. Navy lost a 14-year winning streak against bitter rival Army, and the Bulldogs came up just shy of knocking off Western Kentucky in Conference-USA. But both put together strong years and put a fun product on the field.

A high point total on Friday wasn’t unexpected. Both teams entered with top-20 scoring offenses while allowing 30-plus points per game on defense. This game was never going to be a defensive struggle. Sure enough, it wasn’t, and an offensive bonanza ensued. The second half was quiet until it heated up again, but the Mids and Bulldogs still produced gaudy numbers and 956 yards of offense.

This game was messy, but it always had a lot going on. In other words, it was a bowl game, and it was great in its own, distinctly bowl game way.

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