With one minute to go in a tied ballgame, Patrick Towles handed the ball off to Mikel Horton, who carried it for 12 yards and the game-deciding score. The sophomore back ran into a Louisiana defender just short of the 5-yard line, but exploded through the attempted tackle and found the end zone.
That extra burst was a testament to Horton’s hard work in the offseason. He said afterward that he likely would’ve gone down on the play last season, but he’s much more agile and down 20 pounds from a year ago.
“I’m more explosive and I can bend down,” he said. “Last year, 245 pounds, I would probably fall. This year, I’m more agile to cut and run people over and it worked out.”
All of the credit on the run doesn’t go to Horton’s new frame, however. Horton was quick to thank his teammates for setting him up to make the play.
First, Patrick Towles rallied the team on the final drive, telling his offense, “Score. Let’s go.”
And then the offensive line and fullback Will Thomas Collins opened up holes for Horton to make his run.
“I was talking to the offensive linemen and told them, ‘It starts with y’all.’ And they did a heck of a job,” Horton said. “That’s really who scored the touchdown, especially our fullback.”
Garrett Johnson, the team’s leading receiver in the game, had no doubt his fellow sophomore would get it done. He said, “We knew there was no other way around it and we had to score so we put Mikel back in and let him do what he did.”
As did Dorian Baker, who told reporters, “He made a great touchdown. You know, we needed it. It’s definitely one of those joyful moments, so I’m just proud that he did that. He’s a great player, so I expect him to make those kind of plays.”
Listen to Tom Leach call the game-winner: