RUSTON, La. – Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs is better known for getting it done with his feet than his arm.
Against Louisiana Tech, Dobbs showed he can lead the Midshipmen either way.
Dobbs had a career day as a passer and Navy's option attack provided three second-half touchdowns to help the Midshipmen rally for a 37-23 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
Dobbs threw for 219 yards, but Navy (2-1) went to its ground game after trailing 23-16 at halftime. Dobbs led Navy to 239 yards rushing in the second half, almost all of that on three long touchdown marches.
"We have a quarterback that can throw, so we can't allow people to stand three yards from the line of scrimmage defensively," said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. "When that happens, we have to throw the football and be able to loosen people up."
Dobbs' 1-yard touchdown capped a 73-yard march on the opening drive of the second half. After he temporarily left the game, backup quarterback Kriss Proctor capped a 54-yard march with a 7-yard run that gave Navy a 30-23 lead late in the third quarter.
The Midshipmen then went 81 yards, all on the ground, and Vince Murray scored on a 17-yard run to help seal the win.
"We had a hard time defending the pitch in the second half," said first-year Tech coach Sonny Dykes. "We couldn't get off the field defensively. Navy just out-toughed us in the second half."
The Bulldogs (1-2) scored on five straight possessions to end the first half. Colby Cameron completed 22 of 28 passes including an 8-yarder to Taulib Ikharo 29 seconds before halftime that gave Tech the lead.
Matt Nelson also hit three field goals in the first half for the Bulldogs.
Navy had its biggest passing total in three seasons, with Dobbs keying three first-half scoring drives with long throws.
"This is the ability we have, to keep teams off balance and not be too predictable," said Dobbs, who scored an NCAA-record 27 rushing touchdowns last year and has now scored at least one TD in each of his 16 career starts. "We run when we want to, but we can pass when we have to."
His 63-yard completion to Turner highlighted a 97-yard drive on the Midshipmen's first possession, with Mike Stukel scoring on a 4-yard run.
After two Nelson field goals and Lyle Fitte's 2-yard burst gave Tech a 13-7 lead, Dobbs finished a 75-yard drive in only five plays with a 25-yard touchdown pass to John Howell that made it 13-13 after Joe Buckley's PAT kick hit the right upright.
The teams exchanged field goals and Cameron then completed five straight passes. On third-and-goal from the Navy 8 Ikharo made a juggling catch in the corner of the end zone that was first ruled incomplete but was overturned on replay to give the Bulldogs a 23-16 halftime lead.
Navy's defense entered the game ranked fifth nationally, allowing 190.5 yards per game, and led the nation in pass defense, but Tech had 328 yards in the first half alone. Things were different in the second half, however, as the Midshipmen limited Tech to 77 offensive yards.
"In the first half, they (Tech) were operating at a high level on offense," Niumatalolo said. "We kind of settled down in the second half defensively, but our offense did a good job of keeping the ball in the second half which allowed us to keep their offense off the field."