- By: Rob Wied
By: Rob Wied
Louisiana Tech capped off their 2017 season with a complete dismantling of Southern Methodist University on Wednesday 51-10 in the DXL Frisco Bowl, securing their fourth consecutive bowl win and winning season. The Bulldogs finished the 2017 season with a record of 7-6 (4-4 CUSA) while the Mustangs dropped to 7-6 (4-4 AAC).
The Dogs defense set the tone on the very first play of the game when SMU’s running back Xavier Jones took the opening handoff and Tech’s Russell Farris forced a fumble, recovered by Jaylon Ferguson. The Dogs offense failed to move the ball giving Jonathan Barnes a 37-yard field goal attempt which was missed.
The Mustangs regained possession and were driving the ball, moving past midfield before the defense stepped up again as Secdrick Cooper picked off Ben Hicks and returned the ball back to the SMU 30-yard line. The Tech offense moved the ball downfield and scored on a J’Mar Smith 1-yard touchdown run.
SMU took the ensuing kick off to the 49-yard line before being called back on a personal foul. That set the stage for Freshman stand out Amik Robertson who on third and seven picked off Mustangs Quarterback Ben Hicks and returned it 45-yards for Tech’s first of two pick six’s on the evening putting the Dogs up 14-0.
SMU drove down the field and converted a 27-yard field goal to bring the Mustangs within eleven, but the kickoff following the field goal, Jaqwis Dancy ran the ball back 65-yards all the way back to the SMU 26-yard line setting the offense up with a short field, and it did not take long for J’Mar Smith to find Teddy Veal on a 6-yard screen. Veal showed some quickness in the open field making a couple Mustang defenders miss, and finding the end zone to put Tech up 21-3.
After SMU and the Dogs traded punts, SMU took over possession on their own 16-yard line. On third and three, Darryl Lewis jumped a quick stop route and picked off Ben Hicks and returned it 23-yards to the end zone for a touchdown, Tech’s second defensive touchdown of the evening.
Tech wasted no time on their next possession moving the ball quickly down the field on a 5 play 82-yard drive capped off by a nice throw from J’Mar Smith connecting with Teddy Veal for a 27-yard touchdown. Smith and Veal also connected on a 44-yard catch earlier in the drive that set up the touchdown.
SMU took over on the next kickoff and after a 16-yard run, Mustangs running back Braeden West fumbled giving the Bulldogs great field position again. Kam McKnight showed off his ball skills as he made a great play on an 11-yard pass from J’Mar Smith to push the lead to 42-3 Tech.
Before the half SMU went on a quick 9 play 78-yard drive capped off by a 9-yard touchdown reception by Trey Quinn from Ben Hicks, making the score at halftime 42-10.
The game was over at halftime, as the second half only offered three field goals by Jonathan Barnes of 28, 43 and 41-yards. Sealing the blowout win 51-10 for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldog defense came to play on Wednesday night. They forced SMU into six turnovers on the evening, three interceptions and three fumbles, and limited one of the most high-powered passing offenses in the nation to just 127 yards through the air. SMU quarterback Ben Hicks entered the Frisco Bowl with only nine interceptions on the year, but the Tech secondary quickly inflated that number. The defense also had two pick-sixes, one by Amik Robertson and one by Darryl Lewis while also racking up four sacks and eight tackles for loss. The secondary also held Courtland Sutton, one of the best NFL prospects for the 2018 draft, to just six catches and 68-yards and did not allow him to break loose for a long catch and run.
Teddy Veal capped off an impressive 2017 campaign with his 4th 100+ yard receiving game of the season and his first multi-touchdown catch game. Veal ended his junior season just shy of 1000 yards and racking up seven touchdowns. Veal has shown a real chemistry with J’Mar Smith over the course of the season not only in standard route running but also while J’Mar is scrambling.
Senior Boston Scott finished his collegiate career with an exclamation mark finishing with 20 carries and 110-yards. This was his third consecutive 100+ yard rushing performance and put him over 1000 yards for the season. Scott really emerged over the course of the season and with injuries limiting Jarred Craft, Scott took over the role as the lead back showing not only his speed on the edge but some toughness between the tackles. Wednesday, Scott finished off several runs with punishing blows to SMU linebackers running them over as he picked up extra yardage.
The group of Tech Seniors playing in their last collegiate game, Wednesday have won four consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history and secured their fourth consecutive winning season. In the past four seasons, this group has gone a combined 34-20 and secured two CUSA West Titles. This is the first time that this has happened since Tech has been a division 1-A program, and the first time since the 1984 class.
The 2018 Season which will feature a trip to Baton Rouge in late September.