When the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs got off the plane in El Paso, they knew the task ahead of them: win your last two games and go bowling. The UTEP Miners, on paper, were the easier task of the two games, but you can never underestimate the Sun Bowl. UTEP, meanwhile, had a task of their own: avoid going winless at home.
After turnovers on their first two drives, the Dawgs got it going. Three offensive touchdowns plus a DaMarion King 71-yard pick six off of Ryan Metz gave Tech a 28-0 halftime lead.
The second half got interesting, however. After trading punts, UTEP scored touchdowns on back to back drives to make it a two-score game. Every drive after, for both teams, resulted in a touchdown except for the last drive for each team. After Tech scored on a 6:09 drive to make it 42-21, Ryan Metz was intercepted again, this time by Amik Robertson. Tech brought the back-ups in, who ran out the clock in the red zone to seal the deal for the Dawgs.
Zack Greenlee got the start at QB for the Miners and went 3/9 for 59 yards before exiting in the second quarter. Ryan Metz came in to replace him and threw 9/17 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Joshua Fields went the distance at running back, with 23 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown. Despite being shut out in the first half, credit the UTEP offense for picking themselves up and making a game out of it in the second half.
For the Bulldogs, J’Mar Smith went 15/28 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. For the fourth straight game, Smith didn’t throw it to the wrong team. He’s still not living up to the preseason expectations, but he’s improving. He also ran the ball eight times, two of those resulting in touchdowns.
Oh, Tech’s run game? No Craft? No problem. No joke, I had to double check this stat to make sure it wasn’t a typo.
La Tech ran for 343 yards. THREE. HUNDRED. AND. FORTY. FREAKING. THREE. That’s not total yards. That’s JUST the rushing yards. Boston Scott carried it 22 times for 134 yards, and certified-Cancer-beater Jaqwis Dancy, playing in Craft’s absence, ran it 15 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. Easily Dancy’s best game in his short career thus far.
After two early fumbles by wide receivers, Tech protected the ball. They ran the ball efficiently and chewed up clock. Other than a 21-7 run by UTEP, Tech remained in control and played a complete game. Yes, it’s UTEP, but it’s something to build from.
La Tech returns home for senior day next week, where they will host 6-4 UTSA in a game Tech MUST win to make a bowl game. As for UTEP, they head to UAB hoping to avoid the 0-12 season.