Big plays were turned into a big win for Louisiana Tech Monday as the Bulldogs blasted Rice 51-14 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The win closed out Tech's season with a non-losing record of 6-6, a fact that held a lot of meaning for sixth-year head coach Jack Bicknell.
"This is a great win for us," Bicknell said. "To go 6-6 with the kind of schedule we played is pretty darn good. The defense did a great job. Stopping that offense is a nightmare because you think you have the option strung out until the last second when you find out you don't. Tonight we were able to stop it enough.
While Tech might have not looked dominant on paper, big plays such as Robert Burrell's recovery of a fumbled punt attempt in the end zone for a score and Corey Brazil's 92-yard scoring interception return helped propel the Bulldogs to the win.
Brazil's interception return was the second-longest in school history, behind 94-yard returns by Billy Bond against Arkansas State in 1956 and Rob Carter against Southern Mississippi in 1970.
Tech's big plays also came through the air as Matt Kubik connected on scoring passes of 19 and 48 yards to Eric Newman and a 40-yarder to Tramissian Davis.
Tech's Ryan Moats scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter, set up by a 40-yard pass from Kubik to Johnathan Holland.
Backup quarterback Donald Allen added a six-yard scoring scamper for the Bulldogs, set up by his own 60-yard burst down to the Rice seven yardline.
Tech totaled 416 yards on offense while holding Rice's triple-option attack to 329 total yards.
"Last year Rice beat us big after we came out and fumbled the first two possessions," Bicknell said. "Fortunately, this year things went the other way. There were obviously some big plays we pulled off in this game, and especially in the second quarter. That's how we pulled away for the win."
Trailing 6-3 after the first period, Tech scored 35 unanswered points in the second quarter and then outscored the Owls 13-8 after intermission to hold on for the win.
Moats’ 68-yard performance on 18 carries ended his season with 1,774 yards and leaves him with 3,112 career yards.
"This was a great game and a great win for us," Moats said. "Everybody plays a role on this team. The last two weeks have been kind of strange for me because I've been more of a decoy instead of carrying the ball as much. But I'll do anything I have to as long as we can get the win."
For Bicknell, the win was all about his senior Bulldogs and coaching staff.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” Bicknell said. “The seniors and my assistants, that’s what this is all about.”