Nov. 9, 2013
RUSTON - Kenneth Dixon rushed for 207 yards and one score and Scotty Young tossed two more touchdowns to lead Louisiana Tech to a 36-13 win over Southern Mississippi before 18,571 fans Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium.
The Bulldogs (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) also relied heavily on its defense which recorded four interceptions and held Southern Miss (0-9, 0-5 C-USA) out of the endzone until the final 60 seconds of play.
"I thought our defense played outstanding tonight," said Tech head coach Skip Holtz. "I thought they did a great job. Adairius Barnes came up with a couple interceptions; having the four turnovers was really big. I thought the defense came up with some big stops and did some really good things tonight. I feel like we are making some progress, especially with the number of guys that were out.
"Bryson Abraham stood up and did a great job. Kendrick James, Kevin Kisseberth, Andre Wiggins, and Andre Taylor; a lot of guys got some work with (Vontarrius) Dora being out of the game, and I thought they really stepped up. They did some good things for us stepping in to a tough situation."
With starting quarterback Ryan Higgins out due to an injury, Young - who started the first three games of the year for the Bulldogs - stepped in and ran the show for the Tech offense, completing 22-of-37 passes for 158 yards and a two first half scores.
"It would have been really easy for Scotty to hang his head a couple weeks ago when the change was made to go with Ryan, but he has hung in there, competed, sat in meetings, watched film and his perseverance and strong will has been something to commend. I thought he went out there and did a great job managing the football game tonight. He did not turn the ball over. He was seeing the field really well, making some nice throws."
Young threaded a 13-yard strike between three USM defenders to freshman wide receiver Trent Taylor with 7:11 to play in the first quarter to give Tech a 9-0 lead. The scoring play capped an 11-play, 66-yard drive that started following a safety; DeAngelo Brooks tackled USM running back George Payne in the endzone for the first two points of the game.
Following the free kick, Dixon reeled off 37 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard burst that took the Tech offense deep into Southern Miss territory. Dixon, Tech's sophomore tailback, eclipsed the 2,000 career yard mark on the night.
USM's Corey Acosta kicked a 22-yard field goal early in the second quarter to close the gap to 9-3. The score remained 9-3 and it appeared as if the Golden Eagles were on the verge of scoring when Acosta misfired on 31-yard attempt with 6:15 to play in the half.
Tech finally struck again. Taking over on its own 33-yard line following a USM punt with 3:36 to play in the second quarter, the Bulldogs mounted a 12-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in an acrobatic three-yard TD reception by Sterling Griffin with 27 seconds to play in the half, upping the advantage to 16-3.
USM add a 50-yard field goal on the final play of the half as Tech led 16-6 at the break.
The second half was all Bulldogs. Kyle Fischer started the scoring with a 38-yard field goal and a 43-yard field goal on two of the Bulldogs first three possessions following halftime. Fischer has now made eight straight on the season and 17-of-22 overall.
"Kyle Fisher continues to make field goals which is a positive," Holtz said. "We have to get better with our kickoffs and our punting because we are not where we need to be to play at the level we want to play. I saw a lot of good things tonight; it is always great to win."
With the Bulldog defense holding Southern Miss in check, the Bulldog offense finally came up with the scoring drive to put the game away early in the fourth quarter. Tech started on its own 20 yard line and marched 80 yards in 11 plays as Hunter Lee scored on an eight-yard TD run with 9:26 to play.
The scoring play came after instant replay overturned a fumble recovery by Southern Miss that would have given the Golden Eagles the ball on their own eight-yard line. The big play on the drive was a highlight reel 26-yard catch by Jaydrick DeClouette on a third down play that kept the drive alive.
Tech added one final score on a Dixon one-yard run. The possession started following a Thomas McDonald interception on the Tech 47-yard line. Dixon started the 53-yard drive with a 22-yard gallop and then finished it off with the one-yard plunge out of the wildcat formation.
"On the offensive side of the ball, Kenneth Dixon is a horse," Holtz said. "I have said it before. He runs extremely hard and extremely physical. He is a fun young man to coach and to watch play football. I was really proud of what he did tonight. I really thought that not only was Kenneth one of the big stories on offense, but I thought Scotty Young played an excellent football game."
Southern Miss finally got into the end zone late as Nick Mullens found Kyle Sloter for an eight-yard touchdown with 56 seconds to play in the game.
For the game, Tech outgained USM 469 yards to 357 and was a perfect 5-of-5 in the red zone.
The Bulldogs return to the field next Saturday when they travel to face Rice in Houston.