- Rob Wied
By: Rob Wied
Louisiana Tech returned home for the final game of the 2017 regular season to take on Conference USA foe University of Texas at San Antonio on Saturday winning their sixth game of the season 20-6. The Bulldogs move to 6-6 (4-4 CUSA) while UTSA fell to 6-5 (3-5 CUSA).
Tech got going early as the offense moved down the field thanks to several costly UTSA penalties and pieced together an 11 play 80-yard touchdown drive as Senior Boston Scott ran in the 3-yard score.
After both the Roadrunners and Bulldogs traded punts, Quarterback Dalton Sturm led UTSA down the field on a long 16-play drive that brought the Roadrunners into the Tech Redzone. In a reoccurring theme for the night, the Bulldogs defense stiffened inside the 10-yard line and forced UTSA to attempt a 25-yard field goal that was missed.
After the missed field goal, Louisiana Tech put together a lengthy 14-play drive of their own moving the ball 71-yards down the field before stalling at the UTSA 9-yard line. Jonathan Barnes connected on his 26-yard attempt bringing the score at halftime to 10-0 Bulldogs.
The third quarter began ominously as Tech received the second half kick off and on the second play from scrimmage an ill-advised throw from J’Mar Smith was picked off by the Roadrunners and returned down to the Bulldog 11-yard line setting up UTSA with great field position.
The Roadrunners got a first down at the Tech 1-yard line but the defense came up huge stuffing three straight UTSA run attempts holding the Roadrunners to a 19-yard field goal.
A squib kick on the kickoff set the Louisiana Tech up with great field position and the Bulldogs quickly moved into UTSA territory and before facing a long 3rd and 13 attempt. J’Mar Smith delivered a 21-yard strike to Teddy Veal converting on the third down and moving the Dogs into field goal range. Jonathan Barnes attempted and converted a season-long 53-yard field goal to re-establish a 10-point Bulldog lead.
UTSA responded driving the ball down the field again on an 18 play drive. The Roadrunners were set up first and 10 on the Bulldog 12-yard line. After UTSA runningback Tyrell Clay picked up 9-yards on first down, the defense stuffed back to back runs before Dalton Sturm was able to run for two yards down to the Louisiana Tech 1-yard line and set up first and goal from the one. The defense once again stood tall forcing the Roadrunners backward and forcing a 20-yard field goal once again pulling UTSA within one possession, 13-6.
The Tech offense went three and out punting to UTSA. The defense once again forced the Roadrunners to punt but Teddy Veal fumbled the punt on the Tech 11-yard line setting up UTSA in prime field position to tie the game. On the first play, Freshman Amik Robertson stepped up on Senior night and picked off Dalton Sturm giving the ball back to the Bulldog offense.
Boston Scott carried the Bulldogs down the field on an eight-play scoring drive capped off by an explosive 35-yard run up the middle from Scott that sealed the victory for the Bulldogs 20-6.
Tech is bowl eligible! Relative to expectations at the beginning of the season of returning to the Conference USA championship game for the second straight season, this may come as a mere consolation prize for many Tech fans, but let’s take a step back and look at what this group of Seniors has accomplished in their four years. For the first time in program history, the Bulldogs are bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive year. This group has won all three of their bowl appearances with wins over Illinois, Arkansas State and Navy in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, New Orleans Bowl and Armed forces Bowl. Also during the past four years, this group of seniors has led Tech to two CUSA West division championships a feat that had not been accomplished by another Louisiana Tech Class since 1984 when Tech was in the Southland Conference.
The game ball should go to the Bulldog defense. The defense led by Senior Russell Farris and Junior Jaylon Ferguson held the Roadrunners offense to just over 200-yards of total offense, 91 through the air and 110 on the ground. Farris totaled 13 tackles in the game while Ferguson amassed 1.5 sacks and was a constant menace in the backfield helping the Dogs rack up eight tackles for loss and three sacks on the evening.
Boston Scott finished off his impressive Senior campaign eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark for the third time this year. Scott averaged 6.9 yards per touch and racked up 138 yards on the ground. On the year, Scott finished with over 1000 yards of total offense and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Scott also accounted for nine total touchdowns, eight of which were rushing. Scott saw his Senior start in a secondary role but quickly saw that transition to the focal point of the Tech offense. His leadership, speed, and somewhat surprising physical play set the tone for the offense and his absence with absolutely be felt next year.
Both the Bulldogs and UTSA are bowl eligible in 2017 and both await their respective bowl destinations.