Justin Henderson led the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a tough-fought 43-31 win over the FIU Panthers Friday night.
Henderson put up 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns in what was a break out game for the junior running back.
After a scoreless first quarter, both offenses started to find success in what became a back-and-forth affair.
Following a fluky interception where the ball bounced off a player’s foot, FIU drove downfield and got as far as the Tech 2-yard line. On 4th and goal, Anthony Jones attempted to dive over the pile to reach the end zone. James Jackson knocked the ball loose, and Aaron Roberson recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback, preventing FIU from getting points off the great drive.
There was some controversy to the play, and it was reviewed. It seemed as if the ball may have broken the plane of the goal line before the fumble, but the officials decided it wasn’t decisive enough to overturn the call.
Tech scored on all but one of its drives from that point until the end of the game.
FIU didn’t make it easy for the Bulldogs, however. The Panthers scored on four of their next five drives, with the one exception being a missed field goal.
The Bulldogs appeared to be pulling away, but quarterback James Morgan gave FIU a much needed last chance by leading the Panthers downfield on an 8-play touchdown drive. That score, a pass to Jones, brought FIU within five points with under a minute to go.
The Panthers would attempt an onside kick, but Tech cornerback Amik Robertson scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone for a game-sealing touchdown.
The Panthers had a chance to get one last consolation score, but Robertson broke up Morgan’s pass to Shemar Thornton in the end zone on the game’s final play.
This game was easily the best offensive game of the year so far for the Bulldogs. Every drive in the second half resulted in points, and Tech scored on three of six drives in the first half.
The defense played well at times, but left something to be desired at others.
The Panthers also had perhaps their best offensive game of the year. While a 1-3 start isn’t what anyone expected, maybe they are starting to turn things around.
FIU will now turn its attention to UMass. Tech will prepare for a trip to Rice before also hosting UMass the following week.