- Rob Wied
By: Rob Wied
Louisiana Tech Hosted University of North Texas on Saturday afternoon, losing another demoralizing game 24-23. The Bulldogs fall to 4-5 (2-3 CUSA) while the Mean Green move to 6-3 (5-1 CUSA).
Saturday was homecoming in Ruston as the Dawgs got out to a promising start leading North Texas at the half 17-10. Jonathan Barnes opened the scoring for the Bulldogs connecting on a 47-yard field goal. Tech then scored two touchdowns on two lengthy drives. The first touchdown came on a 4-yard Boston Scott touchdown run finishing off a 7 play, 52-yard drive. The second score came on a 7-yard run by J’Mar Smith.
Tech received the second half kickoff and proceeded to go three and out. After punting the ball to North Texas, quarterback Mason Fine connected on a 22-yard strike to Rico Bussey Jr. to tie the game at 17.
Jonathan Barnes added field goals on the next two Bulldog drives converting first a 37-yard attempt and then a 35-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter and extending the Tech lead to 23-17.
UNT and Tech traded punts before the Mean Green went on a 9-play 78-yard march to take the lead with a 14-yard run from Jeffery Wilson, pulling North Texas ahead of the Bulldogs by a point.
In an effort to re-take the lead Tech put together a 10-play drive to set up a lengthy 53-yard attempt for Jonathan Barnes. Barnes missed the field goal, turning the ball over to North Texas who ran the clock out to end the game and securing Louisiana Tech’s 3rd one-point loss of the season.
At the beginning of the season, 2017 looked to be a promising year for the Bulldogs, favorites to repeat as CUSA West Champions, scheduled for seven home games and an early season encouraging win against Western Kentucky who was favored to win the CUSA East again. In each of Tech’s four losses, the Bulldog (according to ESPN) have had a substantial win probability late in the second half only to watch these leads disappear. The Dogs have also squandered their home-field advantage for the 2017 season, sliding to 2-3 at Joe Alliet on the season. Tech finds themselves in the Basement of the CUSA West standings ahead of only UTEP 0-9 on the season and Rice 1-8 whose only win of the season came against UTEP.
One of the most disheartening storylines of the Tech season so far has been the Bulldogs inability to come out after halftime and perform. On Saturday, Tech was outscored 7-3 in the third quarter which on the surface doesn’t appear to be a big issue. However, on the season the Bulldogs have been outscored 65 to 24 in the third quarter. This statistic points directly at the
coaching staff. Generally, most major schematic adjustments are made during halftime of a game, and this stat implies that the Louisiana Tech coaching staff is not making the adjustments necessary to execute on the offensive side of the ball coming out of halftime. The Bulldogs are consistently squandering leads in the third quarter only to try to hang on or play catchup in the fourth quarter. With a young team this is the last position you would want to be in.
The positive, Boston Scott, what a season the Senior from Baton Rouge is having. While finding himself at the beginning of the season in a clear secondary role to Jarred Craft, Scott has rushed for a total of 578 yards on 102 attempts averaging 5.7 yards per carry and leads the Bulldogs with 6 total touchdowns and has emerged as an extremely reliable option out of the backfield. Coming into the season it was well known that Scott possessed impressive breakaway speed to break off long runs, but the most surprising aspect has been his reliability and consistency week in and week out. The running game between Scott and Craft has been the only bright spot for an otherwise stagnant Tech offense and needs to continue to be if Tech wants to go bowling in 2017.
Louisiana Tech looks to rebound against the CUSA East leaders Florida Atlantic 6-3 (5-0 CUSA) in Ruston on Saturday, November 11th at 2:30 pm.
North Texas returns home to play UTEP at 4:00 pm.