The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs held off the upset-minded Grambling State Tigers for a 20-14 win Saturday afternoon.
Tech seemed to be rolling after the first half. The Bulldogs scored on four of their six drives and led 20-0. However, the offense had no success in the second half, allowing the Tigers to fight their way back into the game.
Grambling had a couple of good drives in the first half, but a missed field goal and turnover on downs kept the Tigers off the scoreboard.
The G-Men had a stronger performance in the second half. Their first drive went 12 plays, 93 yards for a touchdown. Their next two drives both went over 10 plays, but resulted in turnovers. Tech, meanwhile, didn’t have a double-digit play drive all half.
With less than 3:30 to play, Grambling finished a nine play drive with a touchdown to pull within six points. The Tigers then recovered an onside kick, setting them up with a chance to take the lead.
The Bulldog defense held strong when it most needed to, however, forcing a turnover on downs after just four plays. Tech then ran out the clock.
Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith threw 17/25 for 220 yards and a touchdown, while his Grambling counterpart Geremy Hickbottom threw 26/40 for 239 yards and a touchdown. Tech’s Israel Tucker led all rushers with 71 yards on 16 carries.
Tech clearly has a lot of work to do. The Bulldogs were outgained by Grambling 455-390. The Tigers outrushed the Bulldogs 216-170, and outpassed the Bulldogs 239-220. Grambling had 32 first downs, while Tech had just 20.
Tech won the game, but in many ways was outplayed by an FCS school. Holding Grambling to 0/3 on fourth down is the only reason Tech won. Grambling had one more total yard than Texas did in week one.
Both sides of the ball showed some good flashes, but Tech will need to figure out how to be much more consistent. If the Bulldogs can do that, then they should be fine. But this kind of performance won’t cut it, even against a seemingly week Conference USA.
Grambling falls to 0-2, but the Tigers turned in two respectable performances against FBS competition. They were picked third in the SWAC west in the preseason, but the Tigers may have something to say about that.
The Tigers will start SWAC play in two weeks at Alabama State, while Louisiana Tech will head to Bowling Green next Saturday.