Home Sports College College football: La. Tech falls to Western Kentucky, finishes regular season 7-5

College football: La. Tech falls to Western Kentucky, finishes regular season 7-5

663
0

Louisiana Tech Sports Information

RUSTON — For the second straight game, Louisiana Tech’s inability to score in the red zone cost the Bulldogs in the win-loss column as WKU defeated Tech 30-15 Saturday afternoon at Joe Aillet Stadium.

WKU (3-9) rode the momentum of a quick start the saw the Hilltoppers jump out to a 23-0 first half lead and hold on for the victory. Tech (7-5) ends the regular season with back-to-back losses and will now wait for the bowl announcement next weekend.

“When you go into senior day, the one thing that you’re really trying to do is sending your seniors out the right way. We certainly didn’t do that today,” Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “I think we saved our worst for the end of the season. I felt like we played very uninspired football early in this football game. I don’t think we had a lot of passion. We didn’t have a lot of energy.

“I wish I could put my finger exactly what it was today. I did not see it coming. I did not feel it coming. We felt like we did everything we could to prepare for the early start. At the end of the day they wanted this game more than we did. I thought they outplayed, outcoached and out-executed us.

“But, ultimately, at the end of the day, to get this football team ready to go play, is my job as head football coach. I do not feel like we went out and played very inspired football especially in the first half. We just couldn’t get off the field, and they were making the plays that they needed to stay on the field.”

Similar to last week’s road loss at Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech had numerous opportunities to score in the red zone. The Bulldogs drove inside the WKU 20-yard line three times, including twice inside the 5-yard line, in the second half but Tech managed only three points out of those opportunities. Two other drives inside the WKU side of the field resulted in missed field goals.

Playing without wide receivers Teddy Veal and Rashid Bonnette, the Bulldogs turned to Adrian Hardy (9 catches, 125 yards) and Alfred Smith (8-105) as starting quarterback J’Mar Smith completed 24-of-44 passes for 280 yards and one interception.

The interception came on Smith’s first pass attempt of the game and with the Bulldogs already trailing 7-0. WKU would capitalize, scoring its second TD of the opening quarter and extending the lead to 14-0.

Early in the second quarter with Tech deep in its own side of the field, Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety and a 16-0 Hilltoppers lead. Just 70 seconds later, WKU scored its third TD of the game and a 23-0 lead.

Tech finally got on the board late in the second quarter. After an Amik Robertson interception set the Bulldogs up in WKU territory, the Bulldogs struck paydirt on a 19-yard run by Israel Tucker with 1:43 to play in the half. Bailey Hale’s extra point made the score 23-7.

After forcing WKU to punt with less than a minute to play in the second quarter, the Bulldogs blocked the punt towards the Hilltopper end zone. After a scramble for the ball around the goal line, the ball was knocked through the end zone for a safety.

Tech scored one last time in the half following the free kick. Hale connected on a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter, following a 48-yard drive on five plays. WKU led 23-12 at the half.

The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a promising drive. Tech started on its own 25 yard line and drove to a first and goal on the WKU 4-yard line. However, three plays failed to reach the endzone and Hale came on for a 20-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 23-15.

After the Bulldogs defense forced a punt, Tech once again drove deep into WKU territory. A first down and goal on the WKU five eventually found Tech facing a fourth down and goal from the 1-yard line. However, Kam McKnight got stuffed on a run up the middle turning the ball back over to WKU.

On the Bulldogs third possession of the third quarter, Tech once again drove inside the WKU side of the field before stalling. Hale’s 50-yard field goal missed wide right and WKU maintained its 23-15 lead.

WKU scored its lone points of the second half following a turnover on downs by the Bulldogs with just over four minutes remaining. D’Andre Ferby ran off right tackle for a 36-yard TD, sealing the victory for WKU.

Senior defensive end Jaylon Ferguson recorded eight tackles in the game, including a half of a sack and two tackles for loss. Ferguson now has 42-5 career sacks, only 1.5 shy of the NCAA career record by Terrell Suggs.

The Tech defense held WKU to under 300 yards of total offense in the game while the Bulldogs recorded 380.