- By: Rob Wied
By: Rob Wied
Louisiana traveled to Houston, TX on Saturday and rallied to survive versus Rice 42-28. The Bulldogs move to 4-4 (2-2 CUSA) on the season while the Owls fall to 1-7 (1-3 CUSA).
The first scoring drive was set up by Tech’s defense forcing their first of four turnovers on the day as Dae’Von Washington recovered a Sam Glaesmann fumble giving the Bulldogs offense good field position. The Dogs proceeded to move the ball down the field on a seven play 59-yard touchdown drive topped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by Boston Scott.
Tech’s Defense then forced Rice to go three-and-out on the next drive. The Bulldogs took the ensuing drive 76-yards once again finding the end-zone on a 6-yard run by Boston Scott.
The Owls regained possession and drove quickly down the field converting on two big passing plays, a 32-yard strike and a 41-yard connection, both to Kylen Granson. Rice quarterback Sam Glaesmann finished off the drive with a quick one-yard run bringing the score to 14-7.
The Dogs tacked on another touchdown before the end of the half on a 5-yard touchdown pass from J’Mar Smith to Kam McKnight. The score at halftime was 21-7 Bulldogs.
The second half started off with Rice and Louisiana Tech trading rushing touchdowns on the next three possessions. The Owls got touchdowns from Glaesmann on a 4-yard run and Will Phillips on an 8-yard carry. Tech got their touchdown on a Jarred Craft 4-yard run.
The Owls then forced La Tech to punt and drove down the field on an impressive eleven play 83-yard drive taking almost six minutes off of the clock and tying the ball game at 28 a piece with 4:33 left in the game.
Louisiana Tech took their next possession and drove right back down the field with a great possession of their own going 75-yards on eleven plays. Boston Scott reached paydirt for the third time of the game with a 2-yard run pulling the Dogs in front 35-28 with one-minute left.
The Bulldogs defense stepped up on the next Owls possession as Tech’s Trey Spencer picked off a Sam Glaesmann pass and took it 37-yards to the house, securing a 42-28 victory for the Bulldogs.
Takeaways says it all. The Bulldogs forced 4 turnovers on Saturday, including one fumble and three touchdowns, one of which was returned for a touchdown. While Tech’s defense continues to struggle giving up big plays, they stepped up when it mattered forcing two turnovers in the final minute of the game as the Owls tried to drive back down the field to tie the game up. The Dogs offense, on the other hand, did not turn the ball over leaving them with a plus 4-turnover margin. The Bulldog defense has now forced seven turnovers in the past two games, a great sign moving into the final stages of the season.
This game was much closer than the final scoreline suggests as Tech put the final 14 points on the board in the final minute of the game. The Bulldogs found themselves in a fight much later in the game as most people thought and struggled to move the ball early in the game on an Owls defense that gives up 426.4 yards per game.
Louisiana Tech found their answer in the run game as the Dogs racked up 180-yards on the ground. Boston Scott and Jarred Craft both had great days on the ground racking up a combined 30 carries, 154 yards and four touchdowns. Averaging a combined 5.13 yards per carry, the Tech running backs shouldered a struggling Tech Offense and ensured the win.
What has happened to the Tech passing game? In 2015 Jeff Driskel averaged just over 309 yards per game ranking 7th in the country with nine yards per attempt. In 2016 Ryan Higgins averaged an explosive 355 yards per game ranking 6th in the country with 9.3 yards per attempt. So far, this season sophomore J’Mar Smith is averaging 245 yards per game and ranking 44th in the country with 7.6 yards per attempt. So, what is causing this sharp drop off in offensive production? Youth. Bulldog fans over the past several seasons have grown accustomed to having senior leadership at the quarterback position. In fact, this is the first time since 2013 that the Bulldogs have had a non-senior at quarterback. Who was that quarterback in 2013? None other than Ryan Higgins who as a freshman ranked a dismal 93rd in the nation averaging just over 6 yards per pass play and turned around to lead one of the most explosive offenses in the country in 2016. Patience Bulldog fans, there are good things coming.
Louisiana Tech moves on to play CUSA West leaders University of North Texas 5-3 (4-1 CUSA) in Ruston on Saturday, November 4th at 2:30 pm. Saturday is also the homecoming game for the Bulldogs.
Rice travels to Birmingham to play UAB at 2:00 pm