Tulane Downs Bulldogs in C-USA Opener


 

 

Sept. 12, 2013

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RUSTON - Louisiana Tech failed to capitalize on two early scoring opportunities and it proved costly as Tulane handed the Bulldogs a 24-15 loss before 22,035 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Thursday night.

Despite the Bulldogs defense forcing four turnovers and registering 11 tackles for loss, including five sacks, in the game, it wasn't enough as the LA Tech offense never found a rhythm. Tech (1-2, 0-1) recorded only 295 yards of offense on the night as Scotty Young and Ryan Higgins combined to complete only 16-of-44 passes in the game.

"I am really proud of what we did defensively tonight," said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. "I was really proud of the way the defense competed. We were very aggressive with our defense. I thought guys competed for 60 minutes, I was really proud of what they were able to do with some of the struggles and frustrations we were having offensively. We got much more aggressive defensively and put our corners on an island. I thought they did a real good job, outside of a couple plays, tonight. Defensively I thought we did a lot of good things.

"Offensively it was hard to watch. Offensively, I apologize to the people that had to sit there and watch, because it was hard to watch. When you are about 20 percent on third down, and I do not know what we were throwing the ball, but it certainly was not good. (Tulane) boiled this down to being a man on man game. They gave us a five man front and made every lineman single block in the second half.

"They went man to man in the passing game and said we are going to ask your quarterback to stand in the pocket and throw it. You are going to have to protect him and throw it and catch it and we were not able to do that tonight. They did the exact same thing on every play in the second half. It was not a mystery; it was not a guess; it was man on man. I give Tulane credit for what they did defensively with their front, but offensively we are not a very good football team."

Tech held a 9-7 halftime lead on the strength of three Kyle Fisher field goals (25, 27, 37). The Bulldogs, however, could have been up much bigger after two early opportunities. On Tech's opening possession, Tevin King raced around the right side for a 47-yard gain down to the Tulane three-yard line. However, after a false start penalty pushed the ball back, the Bulldogs had to settle for a 25-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

After the Bulldog defense forced a Green Wave punt on the next series, Young and Co. marched 37-yards on seven plays highlighted by a 30-yard completion to Jon Greenwalt. On second down and eight from the Tulane 15-yard line, Young found a wide open Tevin King on a wheel route in the end zone. However, King dropped the pass and Fisher came on for a 27-yard field goal.

Tulane (2-1, 1-0) scored its only points of the first half on a 24-yard touchdown from Nick Montana to Ryan Grant with 3:18 to play in the opening quarter.

Tech's defense forced three first half turnovers, including a Mike Schrang interception with 12:00 minutes to play that led to a Fischer 37-yard field goal, giving Tech a 9-7 lead at the half.

Young played the entire first half, completing only 9-of-28 passes for 108 yards. However, he suffered an apparent rib injury late in the half and didn't return from the locker room after halftime, forcing red-shirt freshman Ryan Higgins into his first collegiate game.

Higgins was met rudely by the Tulane defense as his first collegiate pass attempt was intercepted by Lorenzo Doss and returned 25 yards to the Tech 30-yard line. Cairo Santos, who won the Lou Groza Award last year, connected on a 51-yard field goal to put Tulane up 10-9 with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter.

While the Bulldogs offense struggled to move the football - Tech recorded only 101 yards in the second half - the Tech defense kept the contest close, sacking Nick Montana five times. However, Montana did find Xavier Rush for a 38-yard TD with 4:43 to play in the third quarter to push the lead to 17-9.

The Tech special teams unit appeared to have come up with a huge momentum play when Andrew Guillot fielded a punt and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown midway through the final quarter. However, Tech was flagged for an illegal block in the back as the TD was nullified and Tech took over at its own 16-yard line.

Tulane grabbed a two-touchdown lead just moments later after Higgins was sacked and fumbled and the Green Wave defense recovered on the Bulldogs two-yard line. One play later, Orleans Darkwa scored to give Tulane a 24-9 advantage.

Higgins and the Bulldogs offense finally found some success on its final possession, driving 75 yards on nine plays, capped by an 8-yard touchdown strike to freshman Trent Taylor with 3:44 to play. The Bulldogs two-point conversion failed and Tulane recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

Tech returns to action Sept. 21 at Kansas.