- Rob Wied
La Tech falls to UAB
By: Rob Wied
After bouncing back last week with a win versus South Alabama, Louisiana Tech fell in heartbreaking fashion Saturday afternoon to UAB 23-22 in Birmingham. Louisiana Tech now sits at 3-3 (1-1 CUSA) while UAB moves to 3-2 (1-1 CUSA).
Slow starts continue to plague Tech, as they fell behind 13 – 0 eight minutes into the game. Early on, the biggest play came on an Andre Wilson 46-yard punt return setting up UAB for a quick two-play scoring drive.
The Bulldogs got onto the scoreboard with a seven play 76-yard drive capped off by a J’Mar Smith touchdown pass to Teddy Veal who continues to prove that he is Tech’s most reliable and explosive receiving option scoring in his third straight game.
Louisiana Tech’s Jonathan Barnes added a 39-yard field goal that was matched by UAB’s Nick Vogel’s 27-yarder giving UAB a 16-10 lead going into halftime.
Louisiana Tech went on an impressive 12 play 85-yard drive at the end of the third quarter/early fourth quarter that was capped off by a Kam McKnight 1-yard touchdown run. After the score, McKnight was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct pushing the extra point back to the UAB 18-yard line. Barnes missed the elongated extra-point leaving the score tied at 16-16.
A few possessions later UAB put together an eleven play 56-yard drive finished by A.J Erdely one-yard touchdown run. UAB converted the extra point pulling ahead by a touchdown.
Tech marched right back down the field on the ensuing possession putting together a seven play 67-yard drive ending with a long 42-yard touchdown catch and run by DeJuawn Oliver. On the PAT attempt, Tech was hit with another penalty, this time a false start moving the extra-point to the 8-yard line. Barnes missed his second extra-point of the game leaving the score at 23-22 UAB with 3:32 left in the game.
Tech’s defense held UAB to a quick three and out on their next possession leaving Tech with the ball at their own 45-yard line and 2:08 remaining. Tech quickly went down the field on two big passing plays to Teddy Veal and Boston Scott putting Tech in range for a go-ahead score. Tech was content to let the clock run down and attempt a game-winning field goal. After Tech and UAB exchanged time-outs with three seconds left, Barnes attempted a 39-yard game winner. UAB’s Stacy Keely blocked Barnes’ attempt as time expired and sealed the victory for UAB 23-22.
While easy to point at Tech’s kicking game as a reason for the loss on Saturday it is not the end of the world. Jonathan Barnes has been as consistent as any kicker in the country and has proven himself time after time kicking in clutch situations. In fact, Barnes has already kicked a game-winner this year versus Western Kentucky and a go-ahead field goal in the closing moments against South Carolina. While impossible to deny Barnes’ struggles on Saturday going 1 of 3 on PAT’s and 1 of 2 on Field Goals, Tech fans should not turn their back on Barnes as he has proven to be very serviceable for Tech.
As mentioned above Teddy Veal continues to be a bright spot for a banged-up Tech receiving core. Veal scored in his third straight game hauling in five more receptions for 74-yards. Veal and Smith continue to show that they are on the same page and the chemistry between the two is evident. Since moving to the slot Veal has exploded onto the scene and doesn’t look to be slowing down.
Hopefully, Tech’s defense continues to play well at least in comparison to defenses we have seen in the past in Ruston. Tech’s defense held UAB’s quarterback, A.J. Erdely to 188- yards through the air and without a touchdown. The real damage came on the ground as Spencer Brown gashed Tech’s defense for 165-yards on the ground. When they were needed most, Tech’s best defensive player, Jaylon Ferguson, broke through with a huge sack helping to set up Tech for a potential game-winning drive.
Louisiana Tech moves onto a much-needed bye week before hosting the CUSA home opener against Southern Miss 3-2 (1-1 CUSA) who is fresh off of a big win versus UTSA, on October 21 in Ruston, LA.
UAB plays Middle Tennessee next week in Birmingham at 3:30 pm.