- By: Rob Wied
By: Rob Wied
Louisiana Tech traveled to the Sun Bowl to take on the University of Texas-El Paso on Saturday as the Bulldogs won their fifth game of the season 42-21. Tech moves to 5-6 (3-4 CUSA) on the season as UTEP falls to 0-11 (0-7 CUSA).
After a pair of fumbles that stalled the Bulldogs first two possessions, the Dogs got on the board late in the first quarter following a 12 play 80-yard drive capped off on a 23-yard touchdown catch and run by Boston Scott from J’Mar Smith.
After a punt, the Louisiana Tech defense forced a UTEP fumble and the offense took over on the Miners 22. After a quick pass to DeJuawn Oliver and a steady dose of Boston Scott, Jaqwis Dancy broke a career-long 54-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-0.
On the next Miner possession, UTEP drove down the field looking to get on the board and made it to the Bulldog 36 yard-line before the defense stiffened and DaMarion King picked off Ryan Metz and returned it 71-yards to the house, extending the Bulldog lead to 21-0.
The defense forced a quick 3-and out and the Miners punted the ball back to Tech, setting up J’Mar Smith and the offense on the Tech 28-yard line and just over two minutes remaining in the half. J’Mar led the Dogs quickly down the field helped out once again by the running of Jaqwis Dancy. J’Mar scored on a 10-yard scamper to make the score 28-0 Tech at the break.
The third quarter was a different story for the Bulldogs as they allowed UTEP to crawl back into the game. A stagnant Tech offense was forced to punt on their first two possessions of the quarter managing only 29-yards between the two possessions. Meanwhile, UTEP put together back to back 87-yard scoring drives. The first was a long methodical 14 play 87-yard drive finished off by Joshua Fields on an 11-yard touchdown run. The second Minder score came on a long 83-yard catch and run by Tyler Batson from Ryan Metz.
At the end of the third quarter, the Bulldog offense started to come back to life as the Dogs drove back down the field on a lengthy 13-play drive of their own scoring on a 9-yard pass from J’Mar Smith to Teddy Veal putting Tech up 35-14 early in the fourth quarter.
The Miners would score again on a Ryan Metz pass to Kavika Johnson and the Bulldogs added one more of their own as J’Mar Smith ran in his second touchdown of the game bringing the final score to 42-21 Louisiana Tech.
This was a game that the Bulldogs not only were supposed to win but had to win. In order to qualify for their fourth consecutive bowl game, the Dogs entered Saturday needing a win versus the Miners and a second win in the final game of the season versus UTSA. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Bulldogs have a 55.4% chance to beat UTSA next week in what should be a fantastic season finale.
Sophomore Jaqwis Dancy had himself a ballgame rushing for 135-yards on 15 attempts and a touchdown. The increased volume was to be expected in the absence of Senior running back Jarred Craft, but the efficiency with which Dancy ran with on Saturday was really encouraging for Tech fans looking to the future. Dancy averaged 9-yards per carry and looked good doing it making numerous would-be tacklers miss and finishing off runs with power. Dancy, the same man who missed the 2016 season as he battled and beat Hodgkin lymphoma, seems to be a bright spot in the Tech backfield moving into the 2018 season.
J’Mar Smith also had himself a big game as he accounted for 4 of the 5 offensive touchdowns for Tech on the day including two touchdown runs and two passes. J’Mar has continued to show improvement in not only his decision making throughout the season but also seems to be getting more comfortable in the pocket. One thing Tech fans would love to see as the 2017 season winds down is his completion percentage to increase. In his last three games, Smith has not finished with a completion percentage over 60% and has only managed that feat three times this season. With the offense struggling relative to what Tech fans are used to, it would be nice to see J’Mar increase his completion percentage a little bit to help the offense get into rhythm.
The Bulldogs continue to struggle in the third quarter, outscored by UTEP 14-0 on Saturday. Louisiana Tech has now been outscored by opponents in the third quarter 101-31. It is alarming how stagnant the Tech offense has been coming out of the halftime locker room and Bulldog fans should be concerned. UTEP had no business being in a competitive game in the second half Saturday, however, two punts by Tech and two touchdowns by the Miners we had ourselves a ball game.
The 2017 season comes down to senior night on Saturday, November 25th at 6:30 pm as the Bulldogs Host University of Texas-San Antonio with a chance to go bowling on the line.
UTEP will finish off their season Saturday, November 25th at 12:00 pm in Birmingham against UAB.