Freshman Chris Boniol kicked a 29-yard field goal on the game's final play Saturday night to bring Louisiana Tech a 34-34 tie with Maryland in the 15th Indepencence Bowl.
Boniol's kick came 52 seconds after the Terrapins had apprantly captured the game on a fourth-down, 15-yard touchdown pass from Scott Zolak to Barry Johnson that gave Maryland a 34-31 lead.But Louisiana Tech linebacker Lorenzo Baker fielded a short kickoff and returned it 38 yards to the Maryland 39. A 19-yard pass from Gene Johnson to Eddie Brown put the Bulldogs in position to produce the tying field goal in their first bowl appearance as a Division 1-A team.
Maryland, which was a 1-point favorite, ended its season at 6-5-1 while the Bulldogs, who spent only their second year in Division 1-A, wound up 8-3-1.
Louisiana Tech rallied from an early 14-point deficit to seemingly take command in the third quarter.
But the Terrapins came back from 11 points down in the final period on a 28-yard scoring throw from Zolak to Mark Mason, followed by Zolak's touchdown pass in the final minute to Johnson.
The Zolak-to-Johnson scoring pass that briefly put Maryland in front was set up by a 40-yard halfback pass from Troy Jackson to Johnson.
Jackson scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards in the first period to give the Terrapins a 14-0 advantage and then scored on an 11-yard run in the third period. The point after attempt by Dan DeArmas failed following Jackson's third score, leaving Louisiana Tech in front, 21-20, and providing the ultimate difference in the game.
After falling behind by two touchdowns, Louisiana Tech came back to tie the game at halftime on a 5-yard scoring run by Michael Richardson and a 3-yard scoring effort from Jason Davis.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Richardson gave Louisiana Tech a 21-14 lead in the third period. Bulldogs' quarterback Gene Johnson boosted Louisiana Tech to a 28-20 lead late in the third quarter with an 8-yard scoring pass to Bobby Slaughter and a 36-yard field goal from Boniol pushed the advantage to 31-20 early in the fourth period.
It was the highest scoring game in Independence Bowl history and because of Louisiana Tech's appearance, the contest drew a record 48, 325.