DALLAS, TX - In a game delayed a total of nearly two hours by lightning, it was the Army running game that brought the thunder, running for a season-high 414 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-16 victory over Louisiana Tech in the Heart of Dallas Kickoff Classic at Cotton Bowl Stadium Saturday night. The Black Knights (2-3) stopped a three-game skid and remained unbeaten against the Bulldogs (1-4) with wins in both all-time meetings.
The Army defense also had its best game of the season defending the rush, allowing just 57 yards on the ground. It was the first time Army kept a team under 100 yards since limiting Fordham to 69 yards in 2011. The Black Knights sacked Louisiana Tech quarterback Ryan Higgins four times for a loss of 33 yards, including two on consecutive plays by Colin Linkul during a key third-quarter stand. Linkul also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Terry Baggett led the Black Knights’ rushing attack with a career-high 143 yards and two TDs. It was his third career 100-yard effort and second of the season. Angel Santiago ran for 77 yards and a score. Santiago was also 1-for-3 for 16 yards through the air. In addition, both plebe Aaron Kemper and sophomore quarterback Kelvin White scored their first career touchdowns. Trenton Turrentine, from nearby Keller, Texas, posted career highs with 81 yards on 12 carries. Hayden Tippett accounted for the only reception of the game.
Julian Holloway and Shaquille Tolbert each posted career highs with nine tackles. Tolbert also added an assist behind the line and his first career interception on the game’s final play. Holloway had a career-high 1.5 tackles for loss. Kyle Maxwell and Robert Kough contributed sacks.
Playing in rainy and wet conditions for most of the game, Army won the turnover battle, 2-0. It was the Black Knights second turnover-free game of the season, both of victories.
Higgins threw for 320 yards and a touchdown, completing 20 of his 36 throws. Andrew Guillot was his favorite target with five catches for 123 yards and a score. Kenneth Dixon gained 71 yards and accounted for one score on 16 rushing attempts. Daniel Cobb paced the LA Tech defense with nine total tackles.
The Black Knights defense forced a three-and-out on the opening possession, and Army took over at its own 15-yard line. The Black Knights used 13 plays, 11 of them runs, to find the end zone for the first time. Baggett did the honors with a nine-yard rush around right end for his first score of the season. He also contributed a 25-yard scamper on the drive. Daniel Grochowski’s extra point was good to give Army a 7-0 lead with 8:08 left in the opening period.
After another Louisiana Tech punt, Army again utilized its ground game to find paydirt. In a drive that included a 45-minute lightning delay, the Black Knights marched 66 yards in 13 plays, all runs, for its second touchdown. Baggett again did the honors, this time from 14 yards out, and the extra point extended Army’s lead to 14-0 with three seconds left in the first half.
The Black Knights’ defense stopped the Bulldogs on fourth down, but the Army offense gave the ball back to Louisiana Tech with its first punt of the game. The LA Tech offense went to the air to move the ball and reach the end zone for the first time. Higgins found Guillot three times for a total of 80 yards, including a 29-yard scoring strike. The PAT was no good, keeping the score at 14-6 with 7:29 left in the second stanza.
Army’s offense answered the score with its third touchdown of the contest. The Black Knights covered 90 yards, all but 16 of which came via the rush, in 14 plays and took six minutes, 30 seconds off the clock. Kemper scored his first career touchdowns, taking a toss around the left side for a three-yard score. Grochowski’s third extra point pushed the Black Knights’ advantage to 21-6 with 59 seconds left. Army overcame a 15-yard chop block call early in the drive, moving the chains on what was a 1st-and-21 from the 11-yard line.
The Bulldogs ran their hurry-up offense and were able to move into scoring range. Kyle Fischer split the uprights from 31 yards out as time expired in the first half to send the teams into the locker room at 21-9 in favor of the Black Knights.
Baggett led Army with 102 yards and two scores on just 10 carries through the first two quarters. Seven Black Knights totaled 251 ground markers before halftime. Santiago completed one pass in three tries, a 16-yard hook up with Tippett on Army’s third scoring drive of the half.
The Army offense picked up where it left off before halftime, taking the opening possession of the third quarter 77 yards in 10 plays. Santiago capped the drive, all of which came on the ground, with a two-yard plunge on 3rd-and-goal.
The Higgins to Guillot connection struck again on the Bulldogs’ next possession. A 39-yard hook up brought the ball to the Army 31-yard line. On the next play a throw to Guillot in the end zone was tipped, but Army cornerback Josh Jenkins was whistled for a targeting penalty and disqualified from the game. The penalty moved the ball to the 16-yard line, and two plays later Dixon carried it in from the 7-yard line.
Louisiana Tech forced Army to punt and drove into Black Knights’ territory, but a back-to-back sacks by Linkul pushed the Bulldogs back a total of 21 yards and forced a punt. Army’s offense then went to work, grinding out a 12-play, 61-yard drive that took seven minutes, seven seconds off the clock. Kelvin White, who came on after Santiago’s helmet came off on a quarterback sneak near the goal line, scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard plunge. Grochowski’s fifth extra point made it 35-16 with 8:52 left. Army again did not attempt a pass on the scoring drive.
Army forced a turnover on the Bulldogs’ next possession when Linkul fell on a loose ball at the LA Tech 49-yard line. The Black Knights were able to run more than four minutes off the clock, but could not turn the Bulldogs’ miscue into points.
Louisiana Tech moved into Army territory, driving to the 20-yard line, but after clocking the ball with six seconds left, a last-second heave into the end zone was intercepted by Tolbert.
The victory snapped Army’s 14-game losing streak in games played away from West Point. The Black Knights stay on the road next week when they travel to Boston College.