Sept. 17, 2011
RUSTON - Patrick Edwards' 32-yard touchdown reception with 1:36 to play capped a furious second half rally as Houston defeated Louisiana Tech 35-34 before 24,642 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.
Edwards leaping catch in the back of the north endzone capped an 84-yard, six play drive as Houston (3-0) scored the final 28 points of the game.
Tech took a 34-7 lead on Ray Holley's seven-yard run with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter, before the Cougars scored four straight touchdowns.
Tech (1-2) had one final chance to retake the lead but Lennon Creer was stopped just short on a fourth down play at the Bulldogs 37-yard line with just under a minute to play as Houston ran the final seconds off the game clock while a sea of blue streamed out of the Joe Aillet Stadium gates in shock.
"Well, tough football game," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "When you have coached as long as I have coached, you end up in a lot of tight, tough football games and that was one of the more disappointing ones I have ever been a part of. I thought we played really well for about three quarters and then just kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter.
"We have to learn how to finish a game off. We've played two games against teams picked first and second in Conference USA in Southern Miss and Houston and lost by two and lost by one. If we want to get this program where we want it to be we have to learn how to win those games against good teams. We just weren't able to do it today."
Behind a stellar defensive performance through the first 40 minutes of action and a ball control offense that kept the high-powered UH offense on the sideline, LA Tech took a 20-7 lead into the halftime locker room as Matt Nelson booted a 47-yard field goal at the end of the half.
Nick Isham threw a 16-yard strike to Quinton Patton with 6:47 to play in the third making the score 27-7 and after a Quin Giles interception, Holley's seven-yard run gave Tech its biggest lead of the night.
However, Case Keenum - who had been held in check through the first 40 minutes of play - passed for 280 of his game-high 351 yards in the second half as he led Houston on four touchdown drives, including three in the fourth quarter.
After Bryce Beall's two-yard run early in the fourth quarter made the score 34-21, Tech marched 42-yards on nine plays and looked to be in control until Holley fumbled on the UH 22-yard line, giving the Cougars life.
Keenum took Houston 80 yards on nine plays as Beall scored again - this time from four yards out - to cut the deficit to 34-28 with 7:25 to play. Keenum completed a key fourth-down and four pass to keep the drive alive.
Following an Isham interception on Tech's next possession, the Bulldog defense stood tall forcing a three out with 5:40 to play. However, the Bulldog offense could muster only one first down as Houston took over following a Ryan Allen punt with 2:46 to play - setting up the game-winning drive.
"We talked at halftime about playing each play, and how we can't get it all back at one time," said Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin. "It's going to take every play. We've been in that position (before), but we have guys who know what it takes to win."
"We are just trying to find guys and get them lined up," Dykes said. "It's hard to put a drive together when you're banged up like that but we have to learn how to do it. That's part of it. Good football teams have players that step up and make plays and we have to be more than one tricked pony and somebody has to step up in those situations and make a play."
Isham completed 20-of-31 passes for 199 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while Patton led Tech with five receptions for 82 yards and one score before leaving the game following his touchdown reception.
Creer - despite missing more than a quarter with an injury - rushed 25 times for 99 yards and one score while Holley added 62 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Keenum completed 25-of-40 passes for 351 yards and three scores and two interceptions.
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday when they travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State at 6 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.