The line by kickoff was La Tech -30.5.
Turns out the the line by Vegas wasn’t big enough as the Bulldogs won by 45 points for their most lopsided win since their 63-15 win over FCS Southern in the season opener last year.
Rice won the toss and chose to receive, maybe thinking they could get the first score against a Tech defense that has struggled this year. However, that defense stepped up game big time forcing a 3-and-out.
In fact, the defense looked completely different. Rice was unable to score a single point in the 1st half. They came close, attempting a field goal near halftime, but Tech’s special teams blocked it.
The La Tech offense, meanwhile, had a field day. Tech scored touchdowns on its first four drives and had a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. A touchdown and 2 field goals gave the Bulldogs a 45-0 lead at halftime.
Many starters didn’t even play in the second half, with backup QB J’Mar Smith playing as soon as the half started. Third stringer Price Wilson would come in later on.
Rice finally got on the board early in the 3rd quarter. Tech scored on it’s opening drive, but the offensive line allowed Rice special teams to block the PAT which was returned for a 2-pt conversion, making the score 47-2. Tech would give up a couple of garbage time touchdowns, leading to the 61-16 final score.
Louisiana Tech’s star receiver duo Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson were pretty quiet today, with only 10 catches and 1 touchdown between them, but they didn’t play for very long. When they did play, though, they made a couple of splashes.
Henderson caught 2 tipped passes in the opening drive, one for a touchdown. Trent Taylor’s 4th catch of the game was a special one. Besides the fact that it went for 71 yards and set Tech up in the red zone, leading to an eventual score, that catch gave Trent Taylor the school record for career receptions, passing Biletnikoff winner Troy Edwards.
Six different quarterbacks played in this game. La Tech starter Ryan Higgins played the 1st half, going 18/25 for 292 yards and 2 passing touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. J’Mar Smith started the 2nd half, going 6/6 with a touchdown. Price Wilson closed the game but attempted no passes, just handed the ball off. Rice starter Tyler Stehling went 11/20 with an interception by Xavier Woods. Jackson Tyner went 4/5 and Nate German went 0/2. Rice had no receiving touchdowns, but Tyner did score on the ground, along with running back Darik Dillard.
Higgins has shown an ability to run before, but he exploded today with 5 rushes for 106 yards, to include the longest run for Tech, a 71 yarder for a touchdown. Backup Rice QB Jackson Tyner had 3 rushes for 14 yards, but he looks like he could develop into a dual-threat QB for the Owls.
This game had huge bowl implications, as Rice has now lost 7 games and is officially ineligible (assuming they don’t win out and somehow slip in at 5-7, which is unlikely).
Simultaneously, Tech picked up its 6th win of the season to become bowl eligible. This is the second straight year beating Rice clinched bowl eligibility for the Bulldogs, and it means Tech will go to a bowl for 3 straight years for the 1st time in school history.
Next week, Rice (1-7, 0-5) will return home to take on FAU (1-7, 0-4), while Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-1) will go on the road to challenge North Texas (4-4, 2-2).