Navy 32, Louisiana Tech 14
A mere six minutes in, and Navy found itself down by two touchdowns to Louisiana Tech. That’s not exactly ideal for a team that specializes in a slow, almost geologic, triple-option offense.
But the Midshipmen got two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Ricky Dobbs and Marcus Curry ran for 124 yards to help Navy score 32 unanswered points on the way to a 32-14 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“That wasn’t the start we wanted,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatatolo said. “We got down early but our guys did a good job of continuing to fight.”
Louisiana Tech scored on Daniel Porter’s 3-yard run to cap a 10-play, 74-yard opening drive that lasted less than four minutes, then went ahead 14-0 after Phillip Livas’ 85-yard punt return.
After that, the Mids’ defense stiffened and Navy took control. After Joe Buckley’s field goal, Navy scored on a 16-yard run by Cory Finnerty and a 3-yard run by Dobbs.
The Midshipmen added two points when holder Greg Zingler ran with the snap and scored on a conversion, for an 18-14 halftime lead.
The final two scores of the game came in the fourth quarter, with Curry going in from the 3 with 10:31 to play and Dobbs scoring from the 2 with 5:50 left.
The go-ahead touchdown was set up by Jabaree Tuani’s interception of a low pass from Tech’s Ross Jenkins. It gave the Mids the ball at the Tech 47. Four plays later, Dobbs scored to give Navy the lead for good.
“After that first drive we went to our game plan,” Tuani said. “On the first drive we weren’t doing our job. (Defensive coordinator Buddy) Green always says ‘Play with emotion.’
“We didn’t do that at the start.”
After the opening drive, Louisiana Tech’s offense gained just 93 yards on nine possesions and had only one series last more than five plays.
After having run the ball 33 times in a 37-13 loss to Auburn in their opener, the Bulldogs abandoned the ground game against Navy.
They ran just seven times in the first half and 17 times for the game- for a total of 11 yards. Jenkins completed six of seven passes for 73 yards on the opening drive and completed 18 of 29 passes for 156 yards for the game. But Tech’s offense sputtered.
“We just totally went into a shell on offense,” coach Derek Dooley said. “It was a three-and-out fest. Anytime you can’t get first downs against a team like Navy, you got no chance to win the game. We obviously had a great start. We really looked well on offense the first couple of drives. We had a big punt return, but we knew Navy would keep fighting and come right back.”
Navy’s offense – which ground out a 15-play, 99-yard drive in a near-upset of Ohio State last week – held the ball for 41 minutes and rushed for 290 of its 393 total yards. Curry was the most used Navy running back, carrying the ball 15 times. Dobbs had 47 yards on 25 carries and completed 5 of 8 passes for 103 yards.
“It took us a while to wake up. I kind of had a feeling we would do that. Once we fell behind we knew we had to convert on every drive. Coming back was just a test of our will.”
Livas had the third punt return for a touchdown of his career. He has also returned two kickoffs for scores.