MOSCOW, Idaho – Louisiana Tech’s defense slowed Idaho down long enough for the offense to finally provide a spark late in the game for a 28-16 victory on the road. Both offenses sputtered throughout the game until freshman receiver Phillip Livas broke a tackle and made a move down field for a 70-yard touchdown reception.
“A win is a win,” Tech coach Derek Dooley said. “Last week we made it look easy, and this week we almost made it look impossible. Livas continues to make big plays for us, and that was the big play of the game for us.”
The win gives the Bulldogs back-to-back road conference wins for the first time since 2005 when Tech defeated Utah State and Idaho in successive weeks. Tech defeated the same two teams this time as well.
Tech (4-5, 3-3 WAC) struggled moving the ball through the air until the second half when Zac Champion connected on passes of 20 yards to Shane Womack and hit Joe Anderson on back-to-back plays to move the chains.
Running back Patrick Jackson provided the final nail in the coffin for Idaho (1-9, 0-6) with a touchdown run to build the lead to 28-16 with 1:48 remaining in the game. Jackson had 150 yards rushing in the game for a career-high.
Idaho could not take advantage of its first second-half lead since its victory over Cal Poly as Tech scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The Vandals kicked two field goals in the third quarter to pull ahead 16-14 but could not put together enough offense afterward to get the win.
Tech’s defense again proved to be solid at stopping the run allowing 67 yards on the ground and providing an early spark to the team.
On Idaho’s first drive of the day, defensive end Ben McGilton tipped a pass by Nathan Enderle in the air. He pulled down the interception and returned it two yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. It was Tech’s first interception return for a touchdown since Corey Brazil returned one 92 yards against Rice in 2004.
“The defense did a great job by defending the run, and that’s what Idaho likes to do,” Dooley said. “We forced them to throw the ball and they don’t do that as well.”
Both teams traded turnovers in the first half with the Bulldogs giving the ball away three on an interception, fumble and muffed punt. Idaho turned the ball over three times with two interceptions and a fumble.
Neither team’s offense could put together much success with a combined 289 yards of total offense in the first half. Tech established the run early with 91 yards on the ground in the first half. Running backs Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter combined for 109 yards in the first half with Jackson leading the way with 59 and Porter had 50.
Porter scored on a 19-yard run to give Tech a 14-3 lead. It was his sixth touchdown of the year and is his third consecutive game finding paydirt. Of his last five touchdown runs the shortest was 14 yards against Utah State.
Dominique Faust continues to make a large impact on special teams as he blocked a punt in the first quarter. It was his fourth blocked kick of the season to lead the nation. He also tied the school record for blocked kicks in a season on the play.
The win puts the Bulldogs in fourth place in the WAC standings. Tech will break from conference action next week and travel south to take on LSU in Baton Rouge at 7 p.m.