Tech trounces UL

by Leslie Turk

While a win in a rivalry game can make a season, it was not to be for the Cajuns Saturday night.

So that‘s what a rivalry is like. A game where won-loss records mean nothing and the underdog has an edge by feeling "disrespected." A win in a rivalry game can make a season while a defeat leaves the loser "stuck in the mud" as coach Mark Hudspeth explained after UL‘s 48-20 loss to Louisiana Tech.

The Tech Bulldogs entered the 86th renewal with Louisiana‘s Ragin‘ Cajuns as a 14-point underdog coming off a 48-16 beat down by #3 Oklahoma. In his postgame press conference after Tech‘s seventh consecutive win over the Cajuns, Tech coach Skip Holtz complained, "The questions I got all week were, Is the ship sinking?‘ Is (UL) a must-win game?‘"

Even with a 7-0 lead after the first quarter Tech‘s boat seemed to be taking water. The Bulldog‘s touchdown, a sudden 99-yard blast up the middle by Kenneth Dixon, had come against the run of play. UL led in first quarter time of possession 11 minutes to 4, in first downs 7-2, and minus Dixon‘s run, led in total offense 146-36.

Sure enough, on the first play of the second quarter Alonzo Harris capped UL‘s best drive of the night (80 yards, 10 plays) with a 6-yard TD run that tied the score. The Cajun defense forced Tech to punt, and normal service seemed ready to resume after the Cajuns picked up to two quick first downs. The second resulted from a Jamal Robinson catch that reached the Tech 48. Robinson left the field hobbling. He did not return. After a sack and two short completions, the Cajuns faced fourth and 1. Harris was stopped for no gain. In a game with more than a few big plays for Tech this may have been the biggest. Tech took over and drove 61 yards for a touchdown. The Bulldogs would score on seven of their next nine possessions. Meanwhile the Cajuns went scoreless the next seven times they had the ball.

Still big plays were Tech‘s story, and who could blame them for sticking to it? Dixon had a 32-yard TD run to complement his 99-yarder. Iowa transfer QB Cody Sokol opened the second half with a 78-yard TD pass for a 24-7 lead. His 55-yard pass late in the first half set up a Tech field goal. Xavier Woods‘ 46-yard pick six late in the third quarter sent some Cajun fans to the exits.

After the game Hudspeth described it as "an overall team loss. Starting with the head coach. I didn‘t have [them] ready. It was a combination of them playing well and us not playing well, and that‘s what happens when you have this kind of outcome. I told them to get some rest because we‘re going to work tomorrow."

UL and Tech will meet for the 87th time on Oct. 3, 2015, in Ruston.