LOGAN, Utah-- The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-3; 4-1 WAC) defeated the Utah State Aggies (2-6; 1-4 WAC) Saturday afternoon by a final score of 27-17 at Romney Field for their first road win of the year.
“It is absolutely huge (to get a road win),” Tech head coach Jack Bicknell said. “These are not easy games. If you look anywhere across the country teams are not just blowing people out. Every game is a difficult game. They have a lot of pride.”
In a very defense oriented first half, the Bulldogs got on the board first when freshman kicker Danny Horwedel tied his career long with a 46-yard field goal at 8:04 in the first quarter to cap a seven play, 22-yard scoring drive.
The Bulldogs connected again less than six minutes later on another Horwedel field goal, this time from 37 yards, to give the Bulldogs the lead at 6-0.
Neither team scored again until the end of the half when Utah State’s junior kicker Justin Hamblin hit a 36-yard field with time expiring to narrow the lead to 6-3.
It was a tale of two halves, however, as both teams’ defenses kept the offenses out of the end zone for the first half but loosened up a bit in the second half to give five total touchdowns between both teams.
The Bulldog offense also went from only having 18 total rushing yards in the first half to 174 by the end of the ballgame.
“We specifically said that we had to come out in the second half and run the football,” Bicknell said. “Sometimes the pressure will get you out of that mentality and you feel that you have to throw it. You can’t really have that. We looked at our run selection in the first half and said ‘Wait a second now. We are a balanced run team and we have to get back to the run.’ The thing about the run is that you run it a couple of times and it may not work, but you got to keep going to it because eventually it will pop.”
The Bulldog defense came up big in the beginning of the third quarter, thanks to Tech freshman linebacker Quin Harris recovering a fumble at the 50-yard line forced by senior defensive lineman Moqut Ruffins who knocked the ball out of Utah State junior wideout Tony Pennyman’s hands to give the Bulldogs possession.
Louisiana Tech pulled ahead of the Aggies 13-3 with 10:17 in the third on a four-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Matt Kubik and the point-after by Horwedel.
Utah State answered on their ensuing possession with a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped off by Aggie freshman running back Ryan Bohm punching in a one-yard touchdown run with 4:21 left in the third quarter. Hamblin’s PAT was good, and the lead was cut to 13-10.
The Bulldogs wasted no time in the fourth quarter expanding the lead to 20-10 by freshman Patrick Jackson’s three-yard touchdown run with the ensuing Horwedel PAT good with 14:20 left on the clock.
Tech gained possession after wide receiver Eric Newman tackled Ande Bala on a fake punt attempt, giving the Bulldogs possession on the Utah State 43-yard line and the momentum.
“That was huge,” Bicknell said. “What a great job by Eric. I had the same fake punt run against me when I was at Villanova and it worked. If Eric hadn’t been so heads up, (Bala) might have converted the play which would have been huge for them.”
Tech’s defense got another break on the kickoff following their score when senior linebacker Byron Santiago forced a fumble out of Utah State’s sophomore returner Kevin William’s hands that was recovered by fellow senior linebacker Robert Burrell at the Utah State 21-yard line. Five plays later, Kubik connected for his only touchdown pass of the game to Newman for a nine-yard score. Horwedel connected again on the PAT and gave the Bulldogs the lead 27-10.
The Aggies refused to go down without a fight and tried to rally with and 11-play, 81-yard drive that saw Bohm scoring his second touchdown of the day; this time from four yards out with 6:28 left to go in the game.
Utah State’s defense held up against Tech to give the Aggie offense another chance, but the game was all but ended when Bohm fumbled the ball to Burrell for his second recovery of the day with 2:34 left in the game. Tech kept the ball on the ground for the remainder of the game and took the win 27-17.
Kubik finished the day for the Bulldogs by completing 16 of 26 passes for 150 yard and two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground.
Jackson led the Bulldog rushing attack with one touchdown and 71 yards that all came in the second half.
Eric Newman led the receiving corps for the Bulldogs with five catches for 47 yards and one touchdown.
Horwedel finished the day 2-2 on field goals from 46 and 37 yards out and was perfect on his three PATs.
The Bulldogs return to action Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Idaho at 4 p.m. CST.