- Rob Wied
BY: Rob Wied
RUSTON, LA – After suffering a heartbreaking loss last Saturday at the hands of South Carolina, Louisiana Tech returned home and righted the ship with a hard-fought 34-16 win over South Alabama.
Louisiana Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns in the win as Tech moves to 3-2 (1-0 CUSA) on the season while South Alabama falls to 1-4 on the season (0-1 Sun Belt).
Big plays continue to plague the Tech defense as South Alabama jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on a three play 84-yard drive capped off by a 29-yard pass from Cole Garvin to Jamarius Way.
Tech bounced back on the very next drive with a quick 4 play 69 drive of their own as Teddy Veal broke loose and showed his explosive speed on a 40-yard touchdown catch and run from J’Mar Smith.
Tech added another touchdown and field goal before half while South Alabama tacked on a pair of field goals in the second quarter, the latter coming as time expired.
In the third quarter, South Alabama connected on a 46-yard field goal to bring the score to 17-16.
The fourth quarter was all Louisiana Tech, as J’Mar Smith connected with Adrian Hardy for a 30-yard touchdown. Barnes later tacked on a 29-yard field goal and Boston Scott finished the scoring with a quick 27-yard touchdown.
It’s refreshing to see a defense in Ruston. After years of poor defensive play, Tech looks like they have finally found some continuity on the defensive side of the ball. 33.6 points/game in 2016 Tech is limiting opponents to 27.2 points/game (Mississippi State game skews this number tremendously. The defense played extremely well for the third week in a row limiting South Alabama to under 100 yards on the ground. That being said big plays have haunted the Bulldogs the last two weeks. Giving up several big plays in the fourth quarter last week to South Carolina and continuing this week. In order to make another run at the Conference USA championship, Tech needs to find a solution.
The emergence of Junior Receiver Teddy Veal the last couple weeks has been instrumental in the evolution of Tech’s offense. Since moving into the slot Veal has really started to click and the chemistry between him and J’Mar Smith is blossoming as Veal has scored in two straight games and amassed 15 catches and nearly 200 yards in that same window.
Tech’s two-headed monster in the backfield continues to impress. Jarred Craft continues to be an impressive runner receiving the bulk of the carries while Boston Scott continues to show off his big-play ability breaking a long 27-yard touchdown run to put the game on ice. The power of Craft and the speed of Scott has proven to be difficult for defenses to stop this year.
With the exception of the meltdown last week against South Carolina, Tech has outscored their opponents 55-0 in the fourth quarter this season. Hopefully, this trend continues and Tech is able to close out games in dominating fashion.
Tech moves on to conference play for the remainder of the season starting with UAB (2-2) next week in Birmingham at 3 pm.
South Alabama plays Troy (4-1) fresh off of their remarkable upset win against LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday night.