- Ben Mintz
In a highly anticipated rematch of the 2016 CUSA Championship game, LA Tech led for only 2 seconds total but they were the only ones that mattered. LA Tech fought back from a 22-13 4th quarter deficit to win at Western Kentucky 23-22 on Jonathan Barnes 21 yard Field Goal with 2 seconds left on the clock. This was a massive win on many fronts for the Bulldogs and puts them in prime position early in the season to make a run at a CUSA Western Division title.
Last Saturday, Mississippi State obliterated LA Tech 57-21 in front of over 28,000 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston on CBS Sports Network. This was a bitter disappointment to Tech fans who had circled that game on the calendar years ago. Sophomore QB J’amar Smith was inconsistent at best with 4 turnovers and completing only 10 of 23 passes for 140 total yards. To make matters worse, Tech lost 87 yards on a play in the 3rd quarter that made national news. The loss dropped Tech to 1-1 on the season and had fans worried about their new starting quarterback.
J’Mar Smith answered his critics on Saturday night in Bowling Green completing 22 of 39 passes for 306 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He made several clutch throws in the 4th quarter with the game on the line. J’Mar is still young but he showed in this game why so many people inside of the LA Tech program are excited about his future. WR Rhashid Bonnette led Tech with 140 yards on 3 catches. Tulane transfer Teddy Veal had 9 catches for 78 yards as well.
The often maligned LA Tech defense stepped up huge in the 4th quarter allowing only 18 yards to Western Kentucky. Defensive End Jaylon Ferguson won the CUSA Defensive Player of Week Award with 6 tackles and 2 critical sacks. The junior defensive end has a bright NFL future and should end his career as the alltime sacks leader. Considering WKU scored 111 points in the 2 meetings last year, this was a landmark defensive performance by the Tech D and Defensive Co-ordinator Brad Baker to build on.
LA Tech moves to 1-0 in Conference USA and won their hardest conference road game of 2017. With other West Division contenders North Texas, Southern Miss and Texas-San Antonio all coming to Ruston later this season, LA Tech is in the early driver’s seat as the favorite in their division. The Bulldogs are back in action at 2:30 Saturday afternoon in Columbia, South Carolina taking on the 2-1 South Carolina Gamecocks. You can listen to that game live on 100.7 FM/1340 AM The Ticket with pre-game beginning at 1:00.