RUSTON, La. – It was a game of turnovers between the Bulldogs and Vandals for Louisiana Tech’s homecoming as Idaho took advantage of eight Tech turnovers in a 24-14 victory at Joe Aillet Stadium before 19,231 fans.
Idaho (4-3, 3-0) scored 17 points off of those turnovers. The Bulldogs’ defense forced three turnovers by the Vandals, but the inability by the offense to convert and the turnovers of their own proved to be the demise of Tech.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Tech head coach Jack Bicknell said. “If it could go wrong, it went wrong. We just flat out didn’t execute. We had some tough things go against us. It was a heartbreaker. You can’t win a gave with eight turnovers. You can’t do it. It’s unacceptable.”
Quarterback Zac Champion threw for 137 yards and completed 11-of-26 passes with four interceptions. Freddie Franklin led the Bulldogs on the ground and ran for a season-high 46 yards to tie his performance against Nicholls State and scored on an 11-yard run to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Both teams entered the half tied at 14 after Jayson Bird scored on a two-yard trot with 15 seconds remaining in the half.
The Bulldogs could not get their offense moving in the second half and accumulated just 42 yards of offense after the break. Bicknell said because his offense could not move the ball, it forced his defense to make plays, something the Bulldogs could not do enough of.
“Our defense played their hearts out,” Bicknell said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries, and they’ve really done a great job of bouncing back.”
Champion said losing the homecoming game is disappointing, but the Bulldogs must move on and take the necessary steps to move the ball better against Utah State next week.
“It was just one of those games,” Champion said. “I by far had my worst game of the year. I know one thing; we’re going to bounce back. It’s definitely tough on me as well as this team, but we’ve just got to let it go.”
The defensive highlight of the evening for Tech came when Quin Harris recovered a fumble in the second quarter was his fourth of the season, which leads the nation.
Idaho put what ended up being the final nail in the coffin for the Bulldogs the day after Friday the 13th on a botched punt return by Tech. Tony Moss dropped a punt return when he was hit by an Idaho defender before touching the ball.
A flag was thrown on the play, and an illegal block by Tech was called by the officials. The illegal block was determined to be the reason Moss was hit by the defender before having an opportunity to field the ball.
Idaho recovered the ball at Tech’s six-yard line and kicked a field goal with 10:07 remaining to go up 24-14, making it two-score game for Tech.
The Bulldogs went 3-and-out on their next two possessions, and the Vandals came away with the 24-14 win.
“These kids of nights happen,” sophomore defensive end Wes Day said. “Sometimes you strap on your helmet, and it’s just not meant to be. Tomorrow, we’re going to get right back in the office and start working for Utah State.”