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|Tech shuts down Utah State to snap losing streak|
Lennon Creer rushed for a career-high 120 yards and two touchdowns and the Louisiana Tech defense dominated for four quarters to lead the Bulldogs to a 24-6 win over Utah State Saturday afternoon before 16,073 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium.
While Creer was spearheading a Bulldog rushing attack that totaled 278 yards on the ground, the LA Tech defense stifled quarterback Diondre Borel and the Aggies offense holding Utah State to only 195 total yards and a pair of Peter Caldwell field goals.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, who improved to 2-4 on the year (1-1 WAC) heading into next week's homecoming match-up against Idaho. Kickoff time is slated for 3 p.m.
"We are just excited to get the win and we tightened up as a team today," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "We got a sense on Tuesday that we were a different football team. Today was an important win for our team; however, we can still get better. We have the chance to be a very good team if we can build off of today and clean up the penalties.
"I am really proud of our team. We feel like we are a better team than our record has indicated this season. We've kept working, and we have gotten better as the season has progressed."
However, the storyline for the win was Tech's defense which was much maligned following last weekend's performance that saw Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz throw for more than 500 yards and four scores.
Saturday was different.
Utah State, which was coming off an impressive 31-16 win over Brigham Young last weekend, failed to find the endzone through four quarters. Tech forced seven punts in the game and with the contest still in reach heading into the fourth stanza, the Bulldogs buckled down - holding the Aggies to only 12 net yards on nine offensive plays over their final three possessions.
"Louisiana Tech out-prepared us," said Utah State head coach Gary Anderson. "They were more physical than us, and obviously they outplayed us. They have played some very good opponents both at home and on the road, and they have hung with them in every game this season. At the end of the day, all I can do is look at who we are and today we played very poorly."
The Bulldogs corralled Borel all afternoon as the versatile senior signal caller managed only 113 total yards of offense, rushing 10 times for 40 yards and completing 14-of-23 passes for 73 yards. Borel's longest completion on the afternoon was 11 yards.
"We felt like after the Hawaii game we were ashamed because we are not that type of defense," said Tech linebacker Adrien Cole. "That is not how (Tommy) Spangler instilled this brand of defense into us, and we felt like we had a point to prove. To be honest, this wasn't for the fans or anyone else; it was for us."
While the Tech defense was recording it best performance of the year, the Bulldog offense wasn't far behind. Utilizing the "Wild Dog" formation, Tech rushed for a season-high 278 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.
"They do it every week," Anderson said. "When you are in a football game, and it is something that you are having some success with you tend to stay with it. Obviously, they had some success with it today so we saw more of the wildcat formation. I have no idea if that was their plan, but they were successful."
Although Ross Jenkins got the start for Tech - the senior gave the Bulldogs an early lead with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tim Molten 4:53 to play in the first quarter - , Dykes turned to a plethora of "quarterbacks" as Molten and Creer took snap after snap and used some solid blocking and some misdirection to baffle the Aggies defense.
"(Offensive coordinator) Tony Franklin was very creative with the offense," Dykes said. "The offense only turned the ball over once. However, we had about eight penalties that killed too many drives. That is something that we need to fix.
"We felt that it was important to run the football today. We had a lot of different options with the running game. We had several third down conversion so that helped out the offense."
Creer's two-yard run with 7:30 to play in the second quarter came out of the Wild Dog formation and gave Tech a 14-0 advantage. It capped a eight-play, 62-yard drive that was highlighted by 20-yard pass from Jenkins to Molten that took the ball deep inside Utah State territory.
Utah State finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Caldwell which capped a 10-play, 47-yard drive. It was one of only three drives that Utah State had all afternoon that covered more than 25 yards.
Tech answered with a Matt Nelson 38-yard field goal right before the half as Tech took a 17-3 lead into the locker room.
The second half turned into more of the same for Utah State. After taking their first possession of the second half and driving 73 yards and kicking a 22-yard field goal - Tech stopped USU on a third down and three play from the five-yard line - , the Aggies offense was done for the day.
Utah State's final four possessions following the field goal netted a grand total of 32 yards and only one first down. Meanwhile, the Tech offense continued to grind away with the run game and a timely passing attack that saw the Bulldogs record 27 first downs and hold onto the football for more almost 21 minutes in the final two quarters.
Jenkins, making his first start since the Grambling State game, completed 20-of-32 passes for 149 yards and one score.
In addition to Creer's impressive day on the ground, Molton added a career-high 93 yards on eight carries while Myke Compton chipped in with 57 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, Adrien Cole led Tech with a career-high tying 12 tackles, including seven that came on the first offensive possession of the game for the Aggies. Matt Broha recorded four tackles, including two tackles for loss, and his 11th career sack which put him in the Top 10 in the Tech record books.
IK Enemkpali added his first two career sacks for the Bulldogs as well.
Tech returns to action next Saturday when it hosts Idaho at 3 p.m. in homecoming.
(Report courtesy latechsports.com)