Sept. 19, 2009
RUSTON - Ross Jenkins passed for a career-high 357 yards and two scores to lead Louisiana Tech to a 48-13 win over Nicholls State before 19,400 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (1-2) blew open a close game by scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter as Tech improved to 4-0 all-time against the Colonels (1-2).
"It was obviously a good win, as they all are," said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. "I was very proud of how we came out in the second half. I knew it was going to be tough. They're never easy. I told the team the third quarter was going to define the character of our football team, and the competitive nature of our team."
After struggling offensively in the second half of the first two games of the year, Louisiana Tech erupted by scoring five touchdowns over the final 30 minutes of action.
Leading 13-3 at the break, Tech struck quickly in the third quarter as freshman tailback DJ Morrow started the frame with a nine-yard touchdown run that capped a three-play, 60-yard drive coming out of the halftime locker room. The scoring drive was highlighted by a 50-yard connection between Jenkins and Phillip Livas on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
"The first three minutes of the second half was pretty much the deciding factor," said Nicholls State head coach Jay Thomas. "Livas hit use with only one big play. It was a good call and we lined up on him wrong, didn't get the right leverage and had a new guy out there trying to cover him."
Just over one minute later, Tech's defense struck as Deon Young intercepted Jacob Witt -- his second pass of the night - and returned it 32-yards down the left sideline for a score as the Bulldogs led 27-3. Young had intercepted a Witt pass on the second play of the game which set up a Matt Nelson 24-yard field goal and gave Tech an early 3-0 advantage.
The score remained 27-3 until Jenkins found Dennis Morris on a swing pass on a third down play as the tight end raced down the left sideline stiff-arming one Colonel defender for a 37-yard score and a 34-3 LA Tech lead with 4:47 to play in the third quarter. The play capped an impressive 10-play, 97-yard drive that took 4:43 off the game clock.
Jenkins opened the fourth quarter with his second scoring toss of the night, a six-yard strike to sophomore Houston Tuminello in the left corner of the endzone and the route was on. It was Tuminello's first career touchdown reception and the first scoring grab by a Tech wide receiver this season.
Jenkins ended the night completing 21-of-30 passes for 357 yards and two scores without throwing an interception. It marked the first 300-plus yard passing game by a Bulldog quarterback since Zac Champion threw for 305 yards in a win over North Texas in 2007.
"Ross had a great game, and it's about as good of a game throwing the football as we've had since I've been here," Dooley said.
Nicholls State scored their lone touchdown of the night on a 24-yard run by Witt with 10:47 to play in the game as the lead was cut to 41-10.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Colby Cameron then saw his first career action for LA Tech and promptly drove the team 62-yards on seven plays, scoring from one-yard out on a quarterback sneak to cap the Bulldogs scoring on the night.
Nicholls State added a 42-yard Ross Schexnayder field goal to end the scoring.
After the two teams traded field goals to open the game, Tech took a 10-3 lead on a Daniel Porter two-yard run with 14:55 to play in the second quarter. Nelson added a 44-yard field goal with 1:19 to play in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 13-3 halftime lead.
Tech's defense forced four turnovers on the night, including an interception by Antonio Baker in the third quarter. It was Baker's ninth interception of his career, moving him into a tie for ninth place in the Bulldog record books.
Morrow led all Tech running backs with a career-high 89 yards on eight carries and the one score while freshman Tyrone Duplessis added 71 yards on eight carries.
Livas and Morris led Tech with 85 yards receiving on four catches each while tight end Dustin Mitchell added four receptions for 53 yards.
Tech totaled 558 yards of total offense compared to 271 yards by Nicholls State.
Tech returns to action Wednesday, Sept. 30 when its hosts Hawaii at 7 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2.