Balanced Attack Leads Bulldogs To Win
Oct. 29, 2011
RUSTON - Colby Cameron threw for 237 yards and Lennon Creer paced an impressive Tech ground assault with his seventh career 100-yard rushing performance as Louisiana Tech defeated San Jose State 38-28 before 19,642 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday afternoon.
While the offense was recording 497 total yards, the Bulldog defense forced five turnovers, including a season-high four interceptions as Tech held SJSU to a mere 12 yards rushing on 17 carries.
The Bulldogs (4-4, 3-1 WAC) used a five-minute stretch that included the final possession of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half to blow open a close game as Tech defeated the Spartans (3-5, 2-2 WAC) for the fifth straight time.
"It was a good win for us," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "It ended up being a little tighter than we wanted it to be at the end. It was frustrating in the fourth quarter. We did not make some plays to be able to run out the clock, and then we ended up giving up a 99-yard drive. The biggest play was stopping the two-point conversion (after their final TD). That would have made it a one possession game."
Tech led 17-14 late in the second quarter but capitalized on two interceptions to score 21 straight points as the Bulldogs led 38-14 with over 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.
The barrage started when Tech safety Jamel Johnson intercepted a Matt Faulkner pass with 51 seconds to play in the second quarter and returned it deep into Spartan territory. Three plays later, Cameron hit Quinton Patton on a two-yard TD toss - the duo's second scoring hookup of the game as Tech took a 24-14 lead into intermission.
"We played extremely well in the first half only giving up a cheap touchdown after a fumbled punt return," Dykes said. "It all started with our ability to stop the run, and that was very critical to winning this game. It kind of made them one dimensional and our defense made some big plays with sacks and interceptions."
After a 40-yard kickoff return by freshman Levander Liggins to open the second half, the Bulldogs marched 60 yards on 12 plays and took a 31-14 lead on a 1-yard touchdown dive by Creer with 11:15 to play in the third quarter. Tech converted a pair of third downs and one fourth down on the scoring drive.
"Offensively, we had a great drive to start the second half, but we have to do a better job of making plays and running out the clock," Dykes said. "We did a great job of this against Utah State. We had some opportunities today. We fumbled once."
On the first play of scrimmage for San Jose State following the kickoff, Tech linebacker Jay Dudley intercepted Faulkner and raced 36-yards untouched to the endzone as the Bulldog led ballooned to 38-14. It was the third straight game that LA Tech has returned an interception for a score, and the second for Dudley who also accomplished the feat in the 24-11 win over Idaho on Oct. 8.
San Jose State would add a Chandler Jones five-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter and a Ryan Otten 20-yard scoring reception late in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs won for the third straight time.
After Matt Nelson gave Tech the early 3-0 lead on a 25-yard field goal following a Chad Boyd interception early in the first quarter, SJSU took the lead thanks to a big special teams play. The Spartans recovered a Andrew Guillot fumble on a punt return giving them first and goal at the Tech 1-yard line. Brandon Rutley, who was held to only 23 yards rushing on 14 carries, scored on the first play as SJSU took a 7-3 lead.
Tech answered early in the second quarter as Cameron directed a 10-play, 94-yard drive that was capped by a 21-yard touchdown run by Richie Casey on a reverse as the Bulldogs regained the lead 10-7. The drive was highlighted by a 31-yard run by Hunter Lee, who finished the game with 83 yards on 12 carries in the game.
San Jose State's offense, which was held in check through most of the first half, did record one big play when Faulkner hit Noel Grigsby on a 60-yard touchdown with 8:29 to play in the second quarter. The Jens Alvernik extra point gave SJSU the 14-10 lead.
However, it was short-lived.
On Tech ensuing possession, the Bulldogs used some trickery as a flea flicker pulled the Spartan safeties up as Cameron hit Patton on a 90-yard scoring strike. Patton caught the ball at midfield, sidestepped one defender and outraced two more to the endzone for the fifth longest pass play in Louisiana Tech history.
It was also the longest play from scrimmage for Tech since 2004 when Matt Kubik hit Tramissian Davis for a 93-yard touchdown in a win at SMU.
Nelson's extra point gave Tech a 17-14 lead which it held until the final seconds of the first half when the Bulldogs began to pull away with the second touchdown from Cameron to Patton.
"I'm really proud of the fact that we are learning how to win," Dykes said. "Whether it's on defense, special teams, or offense, we made some great plays and have been doing that the last couple of weeks. We knew coming in that it was going to be a competitive and hard-fought game. San Jose State had won three of its last four. We've been playing with a lot of confidence."
Creer rushed 31 times for 112 yards and one score while Lee added 83 yards. In addition to his 237 yards passing, Cameron added 49 yards on 15 carries on the ground.
Faulkner completed 33-of-49 passes for 327 yards and three scores but threw four interceptions. The Bulldogs scored 17 points off of the five turnovers.
Defensively, Dudley recorded 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and one interception return for a touchdown while Javontay Crowe added a career-high eight tackles and Johnson registered seven with one interception. Boyd and Justin Goodman also added interceptions.
Tech converted 12-of-25 third and fourth down conversions while the Bulldog defense held the Spartans to converting only 4 of 14.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday when they travel to California to face Fresno State at 9:30 p.m. CT.