Home Sports-Free College football: Strong defensive effort helps La. Tech cruise past UTSA

College football: Strong defensive effort helps La. Tech cruise past UTSA


Malcolm Butler
La. Tech Associate Athletic Director/Communications

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – On a night where Louisiana Tech couldn’t muster a consistent running game, J’Mar Smith passed for over 300 yards and the Bulldog defense held UTSA out of the end zone in a 31-3 Conference USA victory before 20,057 fans at the Alamodome Saturday.

Tech rebounded from last week’s loss against UAB while snapping the Roadrunners (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) three-game winning streak and spoiling UTSA’s homecoming festivities.

For the second straight week, LA Tech (4-2, 2-1 C-USA) scored on its opening drive but this time the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead. Kam McKnight scored a pair of TDs while Jaqwis Dancy returned to action and added one. Smith connected with George Scott on a 67-yard bomb in the third quarter for the fourth touchdown of the game.

Smith completed 25-of-36 passes for 309 yards and one score with one interception against a UTSA defense that limited the Bulldogs running attack for most of the night. Tech finished the game with just 75 yards rushing on 38 carries, more than half of those (38) yards coming on the final Bulldog drive of the night resulting in McKnight’s second score of the contest.

L’Jarius Sneed recorded his first interception of the season and Jordan Bradford recovered a fumble by UTSA quarterback Cordale Grundy in the third quarter, leading a Bulldog defense that allowed only a 29-yard Jared Sackett field goal late in the third stanza.

McKnight gave Tech a 7-0 lead on a two-yard plunge with 11:22 to play in the first quarter. It capped an eight play, 53-yard drive after Michael Sam opened the game with a 43-yard kickoff return out to almost midfield.

Bailey Hale upped the Tech lead early in the second quarter. His 46-yard field goal, the longest of the season for the Bulldog kicker, gave Tech a 10-0 lead and capped a short five-play, 21-yard drive.

The Bulldog defense harassed Grundy all night long, forcing the sophomore quarterback out of the pocket most of the night. Tech recorded only two sacks, but never allowed Grundy and the UTSA passing game to ever get comfortable as Grundy completed just 17-of-38 passes for 191 yards. Grundy did most of the UTSA damage on the ground, rushing for a game-high 60 yards on 11 carries while the rest of the UTSA ground game managed only 25 yards on 12 carries.

Tech added a touchdown late in the first half. Smith connected on passes of 12, 19 and 24 yards to three different receivers on the drive, marching the Bulldogs 74 yards on 10 plays. Dancy scored on a two-yard run and Hale’s extra point gave Tech a 17-0 halftime advantage.

Smith found Scott on a 67-yard pass down the Tech sideline as the Bulldog receiver got behind the UTSA defense for the longest play of the night by either team.

Sackett finally got UTSA on the scoreboard with 1:41 to play in the third quarter, hitting from 29 yards out and capping a 12-play, 66-yard drive by the Roadrunners.

With the game out of reach, McKnight put the final nail in the coffin with a seven-yard run with 60 seconds to play in the game.

Veal led Tech’s receivers with seven catches for 75 yards while Hardy added five receptions for 87 yards. Scott caught two balls for 88 yards and the one TD.

Collin Scott (6 tackles, 1 sack), Darryl Lewis (6 tackles), Amik Robertson (3 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 QBH) and Jaylon Ferguson (2 tackles, 3 QBH) were some of the defensive stalwarts for the Bulldogs.

Tech improved to 6-1 all-time against UTSA, including 2-1 in San Antonio.

The Bulldogs will return home to host UTEP at 2:30 p.m. in the university’s Homecoming game.

— Featured photo by Darrell James, LaTechSportsPix.com

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