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Late-game Rally Leads Louisiana Tech to Heartbreaking Loss

Louisiana Tech falls 16-17 against the South Carolina Gamecocks

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Going into this game, the Bulldogs were the clear underdogs, and Louisiana Tech fans weren’t necessarily expecting to put up a win against this SEC opponent. Louisiana Tech had fans hopeful as the Dawgs led the Gamecocks 13-0 going into the fourth quarter, but within a blink of an eye the South Carolina would come away with the victory, leaving the Bulldogs close yet again to a potential upset.

The first half of the game relied heavily on defense for either side, as both teams failed to make a touchdown. South Carolina fans continued to grow more frustrated by rookie kicker Parker White, who missed both field goal attempts in the first half of the game, one from 34 yards an another from 46 yards. To make matters worse for Gamecocks fans, QB Jake Bentley, threw a demoralizing interception to Junior CB Aaron Roberson, who returned the interception 19 yards, resulting in a 52 yard field goal for Louisiana Tech, giving the Bulldogs the 6-0 lead heading into halftime.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

As both teams emerged for the second half, Louisiana Tech’s offense showed up to drive the ball in 12 plays and 72 yards resulting in a three yard pass for a touch down for Bulldog WR Teddy Veal. As the Gamecocks began their drive, the offense would continue to be demoralized as USC RB Ty’Son Williams would fumble the ball on Tech’s 34 yard line, to be recovered by Senior DE Deldrick Canty. Louisiana Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith would make an impressive drive with big plays from WR Kam McKnight (19 yard reception to the USC 29), WR Rhashid Bonnette (16 yard reception to the USC 13), and RB Boston Scott (4 yard run to the USC 9). Following a play with no gain, Smith threw an interception to South Carolina CB Jamarcus King.

From this point, things went south for the Bulldogs.

Jake Bentley and his offense ran all over Louisiana Tech’s defense, with a 16 play drive for 97 yards which resulted in a 28 yard pass to OrTre Smith for a touchdown. Though the defenses did well to stop each other by forcing punts, South Caorlina’s offense would eventually take the lead 14-13 by charging 74 yard down the field in only two plays for another touchdown. Though Tech would respond in their next drive with a field goal, to reclaim the lead 16-14, the defense could not hold the newfound explosiveness in the Gamecocks’ offense, resulting in a game-winning redemption field goal by Parker White in the final four seconds of the game to give USC the victory.

Takeaways

Though fans weren’t expecting a victory from this game, it was a demoralizing loss that will sting for the rest of the season. Skip Holtz is now 0-8 against SEC opponents as a head coach, and these types of losses are known too well by the Bulldogs. Teddy Veal, Rhashid Bonnette, and Kam McKnight look like they are stepping up to the plate, while J’Mar Smith continues to struggle to find a rhythm with his offense. Though he missed a difficult 43 yard field goal in the first half of the game, kicker Jonathan Barnes continues to prove himself as a valuable asset to the team, scoring 10 of Tech’s 16 points during the game. Though this loss means nothing on the road to a conference championship, the Bulldogs dropped a valuable opportunity to prove they can compete on a P5 level.

Louisiana Tech will take on the South Alabama Jaguars at home in Ruston at Joe Aillet Stadium next Saturday (9/30) at 6:00 PM CT for their final nonconference game of the regular season.