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|Navy comes from behind to beat Tech|
RUSTON - Ricky Dobbs passed for a career-high 219 yards and one touchdown and led Navy to a 37-23 come-from-behind victory over Louisiana Tech before 23,122 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite suffering an ankle injury mid-way through the third quarter, Dobbs directed three touchdown scoring drives over the final two periods of the contest as the Midshipmen (2-1) offense controlled the game grinding out more than 22 minutes in the second half.
This after Louisiana Tech appeared to have found its groove in the opening 30 minutes by recording more than 300 yards of total offense and leading 23-16 at the break.
"It was a disappointing, frustrating night tonight," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "I thought we played hard in the first half, but the second half was a disaster. We had a hard time making a first down.
"Navy played well in the second half, and we had a hard time defending the pitch. We had turnovers on offense and Navy out-toughed us in the second half."
After Dobbs directed an impressive nine-play, 97-yard drive on Navy's opening possession which was capped by a four-yard run by Mike Stukel, Tech got a pair of field goals from sophomore Matt Nelson to cut the deficit 7-6.
The Bulldogs then took its first lead of the game as Lyle Fitte recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a two-yard plunge with 9:08 to play in the second quarter. Nelson's extra point gave Tech a 13-7 advantage.
After Navy tied the game at 13-13 on a 25-yard pass from Dobbs to John Howell (extra point was missed), Tech responded with a third Nelson field goal - this time for 42 yards away to grab a 16-13 advantage with 5:09 to play before the half.
A Joe Buckley 37-yard kick tied the score with 3:18 to go in the half, before Colby Cameron led Tech on a nine-play, 71-yard drive and a 23-16 lead as he hit Ikharo Taulib on an eight-yard scoring toss with only 29 seconds to play. Originally the play was ruled as an incomplete pass but instant replay showed Taulib's foot had landed in-bounds on the near side of the south endzone and Tech took the momentum and the seven-point lead into the half.
Cameron led Tech to 328 yards and 18 first downs in the opening half as he finished the game with career-highs in completions (31), attempts (43), and yards (251).
"It was a little easier and slowed down as the game went on," Cameron said. "It was the first time I truly felt comfortable from start to finish. The first half went well, but I didn't come out in the second half like I should."
Tech's offense and defense both looked a step slow in the third and fourth quarters as turnovers spelled doom.
After Navy took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards on 12 plays to tie the game at 23-23 on a Dobbs 1-yard run, Tech took over on its own 47-yard line after a 41-yard kickoff return by Ryan Williams. However, on a third down and four play, freshman Jacarri Jackson recorded a four-yard catch for the first down but fumbled as Navy recovered.
Navy then returned the favor as Tech defensive back Chad Boyd made a one-handed, acrobatic interception on the Bulldogs one-yard line to stall the Midshipmen's attempt to take the lead.
After a first down run of 36 yards by Lennon Creer got Tech out of the shadows of its own goal line, Cameron underthrew an open Richie Casey as Navy's Kevin Edwards intercepted him and took over on the 46.
Dobbs then began driving the Midshipmen again before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Kriss Proctor then took over and finished the final 37 yards of the drive, including covering the final seven yards on a keeper as Navy led 30-23 with 31 seconds to play in the third quarter.
The only score of the fourth quarter was a 17-yard burst up the middle by Navy fullback Vince Murray with 11:09 to play to up the advantage to 37-23.
"You have to tip your hat to Louisiana Tech," said Navy head coach Ken Niumatoalolo. "That was a hard fought win, and we knew it would be like this because last year it was hard-fought win. We didn't expect anything different."
After its impressive opening half, Tech's offense managed only three first downs and 77 yards after the break while Navy recorded 17 first downs and 270 yards.
Creer led Tech's ground attack with 90 yards on 13 carries while Ikharo recorded career-highs with 10 receptions for 88 yards and one score.
Solomon Randle registered 11 tackles while Adrien Cole added nine and Boyd eight.
Tech returns to action next Saturday when it hosts Southern Miss in the Red Out game at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.com.
(Report courtesy latechsports.com)