RUSTON – Louisiana Tech senior corner Tony Moss intercepted three passes and the Bulldog defense forced six turnovers for the game in downing Central Arkansas 28-7 Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Tech’s defense and special teams gave the Bulldogs great field position all night long as none of their four touchdown drives were longer than 47 yards.
“It was a great effort by our defense,” said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. “They were out there for 94 plays. The telling statistic is turnovers; 6 to 2. If you win the turnover margin you can overcome a lot of mistakes and we did that tonight.”
Central Arkansas (0-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead as the Bears marched 80 yards on their opening possession and capitalized on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Brown to Marquez Branson.
Brown, who entered the game 14-3 all-time as a starter, passed for 234 yards but threw a career-high four interceptions.
The Bulldogs special teams unit set up the teams first score as junior Philip Beck returned a punt 54 yards down to the Central Arkansas 19-yard line late in the first quarter. Three plays later Tech tied the game on a five-yard run by quarterback Zac Champion.
Tech took a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter after a Beck 49-yard punt return gave the Bulldogs good field position. Daniel Porter gave Tech the lead on an 8-yard run.
“I think the special teams kept us in the game early,” Dooley said. “Two big returns set up scores for us. Chris Keagle had a big night punting as well. I was really happy with our special teams play.”
Keagle averaged 49.8 yards per punt on six punts with a long of 59-yards. He also downed three punts inside the Central Arkansas 20-yard line.
A Champion 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dustin Mitchell following a Weldon Brown interception gave the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead entering halftime. The drive covered 47-yards on seven plays and followed a Weldon Brown interception, the first of his career.
Champion didn’t have a stellar night but also didn’t commit a turnover in the game, completing 12-of-23 passes for 71 yards and the one score.
“They’re definitely a good team,” Champion said. “We could’ve done some things better. I need to do some things better, but overall it’s a good win.”
The only scoring of the second half came on a Patrick Jackson 2-yard scamper with 5:36 to play in the third quarter. Jackson was the bright spot for the Bulldogs offense, rushing 21 times for 120 yards.
Moss was one of many defensive heroes on the night for Tech, becoming the first Bulldog since Freddie Lewis in the late 1990s to intercept three passes in a game.
“I have to give credit to our defensive line,” Moss said. “They did an outstanding job of getting pressure on the quarterback. It was a great (team) effort.”
The Bulldogs gave up only the one touchdown despite Central Arkansas running 94 offensive plays to 59 for Tech.
“We ran 94 snaps offensively,” said UCA head coach Clint Conque. “That’s an extraordinary amount. The turnovers, short field and two punt returns (all hurt). You can’t keep putting your defense in that type of position.”
Antonio Baker led all Bulldog tacklers with a career-high 15 stops while Quin Harris added 12 and Marquis McBeath 10.
Tech returns to action next weekend when the Bulldogs host Top 25 Hawaii.