Army running back Terry Baggett (31) sprints past Louisiana Tech 's Adairius Barnes (21), rear, as Army's Chasen Brown (49) watches on Sept. 28 in Dallas. Baggett rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-16 Army win. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
DALLAS — Weather delays were the only things that stopped Terry Baggett and the Army Black Knights on Saturday.
Once the lightning and rain quit, there wasn’t much Louisiana Tech could do.
Baggett rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and the Black Knights rolled up 414 yards on the ground in a 35-16 victory that was twice delayed by storms Saturday.
Baggett finished Army’s 85-yard opening drive with a 9-yard score after the start of the game was pushed back an hour when a storm hit the Cotton Bowl about 30 minutes before kickoff. He scored again five plays after a 45-minute delay late in the first quarter.
“During the first break, we were just chilling and relaxing,” said Baggett, who averaged nearly 8 yards per carry. “But during the second one, we were hyped the whole time. We were like ‘Let’s go get these dudes!’ That was our mentality.”
The Black Knights (2-3) won at the historic Fair Park stadium 46 years after their last trip, and this time on the opening weekend of the Texas State Fair. Army beat SMU in October 1967, when it was the home field of the Mustangs and one of the biggest New Year’s Day bowl games.
Ryan Higgins threw for 320 yards and a touchdown to Andrew Guillot, who had 123 yards receiving for Louisiana Tech (1-4).
The teams were warming up in sunny conditions about an hour before the game but were sent to the locker rooms after a lightning strike and stayed there for more than an hour while heavy rain fell.
Conditions were pleasant at kickoff, and the Black Knights were driving again after their opening TD when a lightning strike stopped the game with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter. Another rainstorm followed.
Soon after play resumed, Army quarterback Angel Santiago ran 1 yard to convert a fourth down, and Baggett went around right end for a 14-yard score on the next play.
Santiago had 77 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Trenton Turrentine added 81 yards on the ground.
“Our first drive out there, as a unit, we were hitting our assignments and we kept doing that, regardless of the breaks that we had,” Santiago said. “We came back out (after the delays) and kept hitting it hard, kept making our assignments and everything turned out for the best.”
Baggett had 102 yards in the first half, getting most of them outside on pitches out of Army’s triple option. He had a 25-yard run on third-and-8 on Army’s opening drive, and went 12 and 15 yards early in a 90-yard drive that ended with Aaron Kemper’s 3-yard run for a 21-6 lead with 59 seconds left in the first half.
Higgins hustled the Bulldogs to the Army 34 with 23 seconds left, but they got just two plays off in that time despite having two timeouts. After an incompletion in the end zone with 2 seconds left, Louisiana Tech settled for Kyle Fischer’s 31-yard field goal and a 21-9 halftime deficit.
Army defensive back Josh Jenkins was ejected on a targeting penalty when he hit Guillot on an incompletion at the goal line in the third quarter. The 15-yard penalty put the Bulldogs at the Army 16, and Kenneth Dixon scored two plays later on a 7-yard run to pull Louisiana Tech within 28-16.
The Bulldogs were driving again after Higgins’ 29-yard completion to D.J. Banks, but Higgins was sacked on back-to-back plays by Colin Linkul for 21 yards in losses, forcing a punt on fourth-and-30.
“The harder it got, the better the guys played,” Army coach Rich Ellerson said. “We had some guys that didn’t make the trip, and guys that we lost early in the game. We had delays. There were a lot of reasons or a lot of excuses if you were looking for them, but they overcame the adversity and just kept playing.”
Army lined up to go for it on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, and Louisiana Tech’s Malcolm Pichon jumped offsides. The Black Knights scored six plays later for a 35-16 lead on Kelvin White’s 1-yard plunge.
“I was really impressed with how Army executed their offense,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “They haven’t had a turnover-free game all year, but they came out and executed it well tonight. We got our tails kicked on defense.”