Oct. 31, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho - Louisiana Tech true freshman Matt Nelson's 56-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game was wide right as Idaho defeated the Bulldogs 35-34 Saturday afternoon in Western Athletic Conference action at the Kibbie Dome.
After Idaho took the one-point lead on a two-yard run by Vandal running back De'Maundray Woolridge with 52 seconds to play, redshirt freshman quarterback Colby Cameron led the Bulldogs 36-yards to set up the game-winning attempt.
Tech (3-5, 2-3 WAC) lost for the fifth time in five road games while Idaho (7-2, 4-1) kept its impressive season intact. The Vandals led for only 2 minutes and 51 seconds of the 60-minute game but ended the game with the one-point victory.
The Bulldogs almost came away with the victory despite the fact that at least eight players listed on the two-deep either missed the entire game or a large portion of it due to injury.
"I've never been as proud as I am of this team," said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. "We played with so many guys out and lost (Phillip) Livas and (Daniel) Porter during the game. You lose your top two playmakers on offense and all of a sudden you're searching.
"We made a quarterback change looking for a spark, and it worked. We made a nice drive for a touchdown. We did struggle a couple of times when we got the ball midway through the fourth quarter and that's where the inexperience hurt us. Those are called growing pains.
"These young men played with as much heart and as much spirit as I've ever seen, and I couldn't be more proud of them. We have a good team."
After Idaho opened the game with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Tech responded by scoring 21 straight in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs answered the Idaho touchdown as freshman Lyle Fitte took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 53 yards to the Vandals 47-yard line. Five plays later, Ross Jenkins hit Cruz Williams for a 17-yard touchdown with 13:01 to play as Williams leaped high over the Idaho defender to pull down the catch in the left corner of the end zone. It was Williams' first career touchdown reception.
Jenkins set up the score with a 36-yard completion to Williams down the left sideline, giving the Bulldogs first and goal on the Idaho nine-yard line. Following a five yard penalty and a three-yard loss on a rushing attempt, Jenkins hit Williams for the score.
After a three-and-out by Idaho, Tech marched 80 yards on eight plays and took a 14-7 lead on a Daniel Porter three-yard touchdown run with 9:27 to play in the opening quarter. The touchdown was the 24th of Porter's career, moving him into seventh place all-time in the Bulldog record books.
On the scoring drive, Jenkins hit Porter for a 22-yard pass and Dennis Morris on a 17-yard pass to help the Bulldogs move down the field easily.
The Bulldogs added a third touchdown in the opening quarter as Jenkins found Morris on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 2:48 to play, capping an impressive 90-yard drive covering 11 plays. The highlight of the drive was a 37-yard run by Phillip Livas on a handoff where Livas started right, reversed his field, and picked up a block by Jenkins 25 yards downfield extending the run.
The 21-point opening quarter was the best by the Bulldogs since they scored 21 against San Jose State in a 27-23 win over the Spartans in 2007.
Idaho took advantage of a questionable defensive pass interference penalty on a third down play on their next possession as the flag kept the drive alive. Vandals quarterback Nathan Enderle then found Max Komar on a 36-yard scoring toss with 14:49 to play in the second quarter, making the score 21-14 Tech.
After an empty possession by both teams, the Bulldogs took over at the midfield stripe and promptly drove 50 yards on 10 plays and scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Williams, their second of the day. It was the third scoring pass by Jenkins on the day with all three of them coming on third down and long plays.
The Bulldogs racked up 360 yards of total offense and 18 first downs heading into the halftime locker room leading 28-14.
On Tech's first possession of the second half, the Bulldogs lost another key player as Porter was injured on a six-yard run on the opening play of the half and lost for the remainder of the game. After the Bulldogs were unable to record a first down, Tech punted as Idaho took over on its own 30-yard line.
The Vandals then struck first as Enderle hit Komar on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 10:38 to play, capping a 70-yard drive in eight plays and making the score 28-21.
After Tech was forced to punt again, the Vandals drove past midfield but were forced to punt on fourth and short. However, a fake punt was successful moving the football down to the Tech 18-yard line. On the next play, Tech forced a fumble as Solomon Randle recorded his first career recovery.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Colby Cameron then took over for Jenkins and promptly drove the Bulldogs 84 yards on 15 plays for a score as Myke Compton took it the final yard for his third touchdown of the season with 14:57 to play. Matt Nelson's extra point was wide right as Tech led 34-21. On the drive, Cameron completed 3 of 4 passes for 39 yards while also rushing twice for 16 yards.
Idaho looked to answer on its next possession as the Vandals drove down inside the Tech 20-yard line. Enderle appeared to have tossed a 20-yard completion down to the Bulldog one-yard line with just over 11 minutes to play but an illegal procedure penalty brought the ball back. On the next play, Tech defensive end Matt Broha sacked Enderle forcing a 47-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar that was wide left.
After a three-and-out by Tech, Idaho took over at midfield with just over 10 minutes to play. On the first play from scrimmage, Enderle threw his second interception of the game as Antonio Baker played centerfield on a long pass play, picking off the pass on the Tech three-yard line. It was Baker's 10th career interception, moving him into a tie for eighth place in the Bulldog record books and 11th on the NCAA active leader list.
Midway through the final stanza, Enderle drove Idaho for a score as De'Maundray Woolridge scored on a one-yard dive with 5:51 to play making the score 34-28. Three plays before the touchdown, Tech defensive back Terry Carter stepped in front of an out route and appeared to have an interception and a touchdown but dropped the pass - giving Idaho new life and setting up the eventual game-winning drive with less than a minute to play.
Jenkins ended the game completing 17-of-30 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns while Cameron was 10-for-16 for 110 yards and no scores.
Tech outgained Idaho 547 to 462 in total offense, including 329 yards through the air and 218 yards on the ground. Livas led Tech on the ground with 69 yards while Porter added 52, and DJ Morrow 49.
Williams led all Tech receivers with four receptions for 82 yards and two scores. RP Stuart added a career-high six receptions for 73 yards.
Tech returns to action Friday when its hosts undefeated and Top 10 ranked Boise State at 7 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium. For tickets, log onto www.latechsports.com, www.ticketmaster.com or call 318-257-3631.