Oct. 22, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - Louisiana Tech's defense recorded a second straight stellar performance and backup quarterback Colby Cameron came on to lead the Bulldogs to a 24-17 come-from-behind Western Athletic Conference victory over Utah State Saturday at Romney Stadium.
The win for Tech (3-4, 2-1 WAC) is the fourth straight WAC road victory for the program, the longest streak since entering the league in 2001.
The victory wouldn't come easy against a Utah State team that was averaging 39.0 points a game this season. However, the Bulldogs defense made play after play during the game and Tech won the special teams battled - which included a rare loss of down penalty on an illegal touch on a punt by the Aggies late in the game.
After opening the game with an impressive 10-play, 87-yard drive that culminated with a Lennon Creer three-yard touchdown run, the Tech offense went dormant, recording only 66 more total offensive yards through the third quarter.
Freshman quarterback Nick Isham struggled, completing only 10-of-22 passes for 63 yards and missing a number of open receivers while dodging a pair of interceptions that Utah State defenders dropped.
However, the Tech defense kept the Bulldogs in the game. Terry Carter's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown with 11:36 to play in the third quarter, gave Tech a 14-10 lead. It was his first interception since returning one for a score against San Jose State in 2008.
Utah State answered with a nine-play, 87-yard drive that resulted in a 17-14 lead when their freshman signal caller Chuckie Keeton scrambled 29-yards to paydirt with 7:41 to play in the third quarter.
After two more empty possessions by the Tech offense, head coach Sonny Dykes made the switch at quarterback, giving Cameron his first action of the year.
The junior responded leading Tech on an eight-play, 58-yard drive as Hunter Lee scored his first career touchdown from eight yards out with 10:07 to play as the Bulldogs regained the advantage on the scoreboard 21-17. The key play on the drive was a third down and one call where Cameron audiblized out of a run and lofted a pass down the sideline to Quinton Patton, who drew a defensive pass interference penalty.
The 15-yard penalty gave Tech the ball on the USU 17 and after three plays, the Bulldogs were faced with a fourth down and one from the eight. Lee took the handoff from Cameron and ran off the right tackle untouched for the go-ahead score.
Utah State was able to only gain one first down on its next two possessions. Facing a fourth- down and one on its own 33 with less than five minutes to play, the Aggies opted to punt. USU punter Tyler Bennett dropped the snap and under duress from the Tech rush, kicked the football off the ground about 35 yards down the field.
However, under NCAA rules, it was an illegal touch and a 10-yard penalty was marked off from the spot of the foul. The loss of down on the penalty gave the Bulldogs the football on the USU 11-yard line with 4:30 to play.
Tech ran three straight plays before Matt Nelson kicked a 24-yard field goal to up the advantage to 24-17 with 1:44 left in the game.
Utah State had one final opportunity to tie the game, but the Bulldog defense held on a fourth down scramble by Keeton, and Tech took over and ran out the clock.
Offensively, Tech managed only 232 yards for the game including 86 yards on the ground and 146 through the air. Cameron completed 4-of-6 passes for 38 yards while Creer led the ground attack with 62 yards and one score. Lee added 28 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, Tech held the potent USU offense to only 294 yards. The Aggies entered the contest averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground but Tech limited USU to only 166, including holding Robert Turbin to only 81 yards.
Adrien Cole recorded 14 tackles in the game. Utah State's Bobby Wagner recorded 20.
For the second straight game, Tech punter Ryan Allen was phenomenal, averaging 52.2 yards per punt while downing seven of his eight punts inside the Aggies 20-yard line.
Tech returns to action next weekend when it hosts San Jose State at 3 p.m. for homecoming at Joe Aillet Stadium.