Ryan Moats rushed for over 200 yards for the fifth time this season and the Bulldog defense stopped Tulsa four times inside the redzone to lead Louisiana Tech to a 38-21 win over the Golden Hurricane Saturday at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La.
The win kept Tech’s bowl hopes alive as the Bulldogs moved to 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference while Tulsa dropped to 2-8 and 1-6.
Moats totaled 205 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per run while scoring on scampers of five and 29 yards.
The win was big one for Tech coach Jack Bicknell.
“This is the happiest day of my life except when my kids were born,” Bicknell said. “It’s without a doubt my happiest day in athletics. We had to win this game. I’m not just saying it because this is the moment. There was a lot of pressure on us to win this game. We had to win some games, and it makes us feel good.”
Tech totaled 433 yards of total offense against the Golden Hurricane with Bulldogs quarterback Matt Kubik hitting on 11-of-26 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown while adding 56 yards on the ground.
Tulsa opened scoring in a wild first quarter as Brandon Diles found paydirt on a four-yard run to give the Golden Hurricane a 7-0 advantage only 1:05 into the contest following an early Tech fumble.
”I thought we got off to fast start,” Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said. “We recovered the fumble on the initial kickoff. We took it in for an 18-yard touchdown drive. That was big. But we let them out of the bag a little bit with our games fumbling the ball around.”
Tulsa suffered miscues on two kick returns that results in turnovers going Tech’s way.
But the Bulldogs wouldn’t waste time in striking back, scoring on Moats’ five-yard burst, a 24-yard pass from Kubik to Eric Newman and a score by Mark Dillard off a punt blocked by Robert Burrell to put Tech out in front 21-7 at the 6:53 mark of the quarter.
Tulsa put up the final score of the opening period as James Kilian hit Garrett Mills on an 11-yard scoring strike with 2:06 left in the quarter to cut the Tech advantage to 21-14.
Both teams traded second-quarter scores with Tulsa tying things up with a 22-yard run by Uril Parrish before Tech took a 28-21 halftime lead on a 3-yard run by Kubik with 3:12 remaining before intermission.
Neither team scored in the third quarter and the Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth as freshman kicker Danny Horwedel nailed a 40-yard field goal and Moats broke free on his 29-yard scoring scamper to cap things off for Tech.
Tulsa had a chance to tie the game late in the third quarter as the Golden Hurricane had a first-and-goal opportunity from the Tech nine to punch things across to knot things at 28-28.
Diles picked up eight yards down to the Tech one yardline on first down, but the Bulldogs tightened things up and refused to give up that final yard. That would end up to be Tulsa’s last scoring opportunity of the game.
“That broke their backs,” Tech nose tackle Chris Van Hoy said. “When you get three tries from the one yardline, you figure they’ll get in, but we stopped them every time. When Coach Rose makes the calls to put our cornerbacks on an island, he has that much faith we’ll stop them up the middle. It takes guts to make that call.”
Parrish led the Golden Hurricane with 118 yards on 22 carries while Killian hit on 13-of-27 passes for 156 yards with two interceptions, both hauled in by Tech quarterback Tramon Williams. Williams also had a pass break-up and now has three interceptions over Tech’s last two games.
Tramissian Davis topped Tech receivers with three receptions for 41 yards while Ashlan Davis led Tulsa with four catches for 37 yards.
Defensively the Bulldogs were led by linebacker Byron Santiago with 12 tackles and a fumble recovery while linebacker Nick Bunting headed up Tulsa with 12 tackles and a pass break-up.
The Bulldogs have to win out their final two games in order to finish with a winning record and keep their bowl hopes alive, and Bicknell is just happy his team has the opportunity to still keep postseason play in mind.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Bicknell said. “We came in here with our focus on Tulsa, and every game is huge. We’ll get back to work Sunday and get ready for Boise. We just climbed one mountain, and we’ll be ready to climb that mountain too.”
Louisiana Tech faces a big conference game next Saturday as the Bulldogs play a 2:05 p.m. contest at WAC leader Boise State.