Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Bulldogs blitz Minutemen, 69-21

Louisiana Tech dominates UMass for fifth straight win
Monday, October 14, 2019
Article Image Alt Text

Leader photos by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT

Louisiana Tech redshirt junior running back Justin Henderson (33) ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns Saturday while adding another scoring reception to help lead the Bulldogs past UMass at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Article Image Alt Text

Louisiana Tech redshirt senior quarterback J’Mar Smith was all smiles and flashed a thumbs up sign as he talked to Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz during a timeout in Saturday’s game against UMass.

The Bulldogs are coming! The Bulldogs are coming!

Apparently the Minuteman didn’t receive that message in time Saturday evening as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs held a “Ruston TD Party” at Joe Aillet Stadium.

And by the time the skirmish was over, the University of Massachusetts had been bombed 69-21 by the Bulldogs, now winners of five straight games.

The numbers added up to a big win for Tech. On a night where the Bulldogs honored their 1969 team, they put 69 points up on the scoreboard.

And they used their ground attack to do so.

Redshirt junior running back Justin Henderson ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns to pace a Tech rushing attack that totaled 385 yards in the game — the sixth most all-time for the Bulldogs, who also amassed 689 total yards.

Junior cornerback Amik Robertson’s 45-yard pick six only 55 seconds into the contest started a scoring attack that would soon show the Minutemen they were already out of time.  

Henderson followed that up with touchdown runs of 78, 3 and 4 yards that propelled the Bulldogs to a 28-0 advantage with 2:24 remaining in the opening stanza.

“It wasn’t so much that we had to jump on (UMass) real quick,” said Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz after the game. “Like I told (the Bulldogs), to win a football game you have to try and win the first quarter, then we’ll win the second and we’ll see where we are as we get into halftime. 

“I thought Amik jumped that one cut in the flat — he did a great job to get points on the board. Then we got the stop and the offense was able to go down and we had 21 points on the board. The early jump was great, but the coaching point was about us going out and playing to our standard rather than sparring for a while and seeing what it was going to take to win the game, which is what we’ve done a couple games this year.              

Henderson became the first Bulldog since Kenneth Dixon to rush for three touchdowns in one quarter. Dixon accomplished the feat in the second quarter of a 62-55 win over Texas State in San Marcos in 2012.

Tech redshirt senior quarterback J’Mar Smith connected on a pair of scoring strikes — a 17-yarder to Griffin Hebert and a 1-yarder to Henderson (for his fourth score of the night) in the opening five minutes of the second quarter to push the Bulldogs’ advantage to 42-0.

“(I’m) proud of this football team,” Holtz said. “They were able to come out and play with the passion, intensity, and focus. I was a little bit concerned. Coming out of an open date you’re not really sure how you’re going to play, but I thought the staff did an unbelievable job. We talked last week about our goals: one was to stay fresh and another was to get polished and you never really know where that balance is.

“I’m really pleased with the leadership from the players, with the way we focused. We talked about everything we’ve learned through five games, and we found out when we played at Texas that we can be pretty competitive, but we can’t turn the ball over and make some of the mistakes that’ll get you beat. We played really smart football for about four weeks and have done a really nice job with the turnover battle, but we also learned when we played Grambling and Rice that no matter how big a favorite you are — no matter what the opponent’s record is — you can’t turn the dial to what you think it’s going to take. You have to go out with it turned all the way up every time you go play the game, and I thought they did just that.

UMass finally countered with back-to-back touchdowns over a three-minute span in the second quarter to the Tech lead to 42-14.

But the Tech bombardment was done yet as redshirt junior receiver Cee Jay Powell caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Smith and Bailey Hale added a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to put Tech up 52-14 at halftime.

Tech’s attack returned to start the second half as Hale opened the third quarter with a 23-yard field goal before Tech pulled the majority of its starters for the rest of the game. 

The allowed Ruston High School product DeAndre Marcus, a redshirt freshman, to scored his first career touchdown on a 30-yard run with 6:49 to play in the third quarter before a pair of Tech redshirt freshmen hooked up  as quarterback Aaron Allen hit Tahj Magee on a 13-yard scoring strike with 11:28 remaining for the final score of the game.

Marcus totaled a career-high 99 yards rushing on eight carries while Smith added 69 yards on the ground. Tech averaged 10.1 yards per carry in the game. 

“We played a lot of players tonight,” Holtz said. “We had the opportunity to gain a lot of experience. Hopefully some of these reps for guys like DeAndre Marcus and some of the underclassmen will be invaluable for us as we go down the stretch. I think we’re going to need every one of them going forward.”

Smith completed 16-of-28 passes for 239 yards and three scores while Allen completed both of his passes for 49 yards and his touchdown toss..

Powell led the Tech receiving corps with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown while Trey Baldwin led Tech with 10 tackles with 10, including two tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Connor Taylor added his first career interception for the Bulldogs.

While Holtz was pleased to get the win, he admitted his team still has some cleaning up to do.

“As proud as I am of the win, as a coach I feel the pain of the negatives,” Holtz said. “I feel the turnovers. I feel the big kickoff return we gave up. 

“I feel the decision we made to try and field a bouncing ball on a punt and put our defense in bad field position. The interception that we threw, where Westin (Elliott, Tech’s third quarterback of the game) just underthrew it.”

The Bulldogs (5-1) will host Southern Miss at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday in a showdown of the top two teams in the West Division of the Conference USA standings. Southern Miss defeated North Texas 45-27 Saturday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Holtz said. “I understand that Southern Miss had a really big win today with them winning 45-27 lining everything up for a big game next week, which I think our players are going to be really excited about. 

“It should be a hard-fought, tough football game with two teams that are competing their tails off for the West, so I look forward to getting into next week, but for tonight just really proud of what our team was able to accomplish and the focus that they were able to come out and play with.”