La Tech collapses vs Southern Miss
By: Rob Wied
In a game that featured just about everything from weather delays to late second drama, Louisiana Tech falls for the second straight game in gut-wrenching fashion to Southern Miss in double overtime. The Bulldogs fall to 3-4 (1-2 CUSA) while the Golden Eagles climb to 5-2 (3-1 CUSA).
Entering the fourth quarter on Saturday Tech led Southern Miss 17 – 16 off of a Jonathan Barnes 23-yard field goal, a Boston Scott touchdown run and a Darryl Lewis pick six. The Bulldogs added on a Jonathan Barnes 45-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter stemming from great field position.
Southern Miss took the next drive down the field and got down to the Tech 1-yard line before Jordan Bradford forced Tez Parks to fumble the ball. Louisiana Tech recovered the ball at the four and then put together their own impressive 96- yard drive in five plays. J’Mar Smith threw a 10-yard pass that blew up into an 82-yard catch-and-run for Marlon Watts as he was chased down at the Golden Eagles 8-yard line. J’Mar Smith completed the quick scoring drive with a 2-yard option run to move the score to 27-16 Bulldogs with 4:08 to go in the game.
After a Southern Miss field goal, the Golden Eagles attempted and recovered an onside kick and proceeded to drive down the field in three plays to score on a Keon Howard 22-yard touchdown pass and brought them within two. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Southern Miss converted and tied the game at 27.
With 0:31 left in the game Tech rushed back down the field and with three seconds left Jonathan Barnes attempted an extremely long 64-yard field goal to win it but could not convert forcing the game to go to overtime.
The Bulldogs got the ball first to start overtime and on the second play J’Mar Smith was intercepted by Tarvarius Moore and returned it back the other way. J’Mar Smith hustled back to make the tackle and force Southern Miss to possess the football.
On the second possession of overtime, the Golden Eagles’ quarterback Keon Howard was also picked off by freshman Amik Robertson to force the game into the second overtime. Southern Miss got the ball to start the second time and broke through on the first play with a 25-yard pass to Korey Robertson on the first play.
Needing a touchdown and an extra point to extend the game, the Bulldogs converted a first-down before J’Mar Smith was sacked for a loss of 11-yards, ending Tech’s hopes and handing the Dogs their 3rd gut-wrenching loss of the season.
It’s not easy being a Tech fan. The Bulldogs this year have lost three games this year on the last possession. Playing against South Carolina a kicker who had not made anything all year makes a game winner. Two weeks ago, against UAB, Tech misses a last-second field goal to win the game and now this week, blowing an eleven-point lead with just over four minutes to go. How much more painful can it get? Tech has not fared well against Southern Miss losing their last three games. Moving forward in Conference USA, the Bulldogs have to start winning games like these. To make matters worse, Tech had the opportunity to control their own destiny on their quest to a CUSA West Title and a bid to the CUSA championship. Not anymore, Tech will need help from UAB, North Texas and Southern Miss in order to regain control of the division and make a run to the title game.
The good news is that the remaining Tech opponents are a combined 13-21 including a winless UTEP and a one-win Rice, making a strong finish a very strong possibility.
Louisiana Tech continues to struggle making tackles. While the defense has improved this year, a weakness continues to be big plays most of which are caused by poor tackling. Take the game-tying 22-yard touchdown catch, for example. This play was a 3-yard stop route that was broken open because the Bulldogs missed three tackles. Throughout the game, the Bulldogs missed tackles all over the field and should be a point of emphasis moving forward for defensive coordinator Blake Baker.
Louisiana Tech moves on to Play Rice 1-6 (1-2 CUSA) in Houston, TX at 2:30 on Saturday, October 28th who is coming off of their fifth straight loss last week to UTSA.
Southern Miss returns home to play UAB at 6:30 pm in Hattiesburg.