It wasn’t an ideal start to the year for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. However, when you ask a first-year head coach to open the season on the road against an SEC team, your expectations should be relatively tempered.
Sonny Cumbie led LA Tech for the first time on Thursday as they lost to Missouri 52-24 in Columbia.
The Bulldogs started with Matthew Downing at quarterback, who finished the night with 19 completions on 34 attempts for 184 yards and a touchdown. Downing also threw three interceptions in the first half.
Parker McNeil eventually replaced Downing with seven completions on 11 attempts for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
Frankly, we knew that this offense was going to be heavy on the passing yardage and light on the rushing yardage. I’m not sure we expected a net total of 13 rushing yards in 23 carries, which is what the Bulldogs came up with.
Defensively, they did force two turnovers in the form of an interception and a fumble recovery. On the other side of that coin, they allowed 557 total yards by the Mizzou offense.
In the first quarter, the Bulldogs did a lot of good things. While the Missouri defensive line was generating plenty of pressure, Downing and the offense were getting plays off quickly and dictating the pace. They even jumped to a 3-0 lead as the quarter closed thanks to a 33-yard field goal by Jacob Barnes.
The defense played well in the opening quarter also as the Bulldogs forced two punts by the hosts.
When the second quarter began, the momentum swung to the other side and never really swung back. A LA Tech punt that failed to make it out of their own territory set the Tigers up for a short touchdown drive. On Tech’s ensuing possession, Downing threw his second interception, which Missouri’s Joseph Charleston would return for a touchdown.
Down 21-3, Downing would redeem himself hitting Griffin Hebert on a slant route that Hebert would take 75 yards to the end zone. That two-play scoring drive from their own 25 is, obviously, the kind of score that Sonny Cumbie’s offenses are capable of, if opposing defenses get lackadaisical.
Unfortunately for LA Tech, the Tigers learned from that mistake and took advantage of a missed field goal by Barnes. The Missouri offense marched down the field quickly and kicked their own field goal to make it 24-10 at the half.
In the second half, Missouri slowed the pace to maintain control of the lead and neutralize the potential quick score threats that come with Cumbie’s offense. The Tigers held the ball for 32:20 compared to Tech’s 27:40. The Tigers also finished with 327 rushing yards. They also managed four more touchdowns behind dual-threat quarterback Brady Cook. Cook finished with 196 passing yards, 61 rushing yards, and one touchdown apiece in the air and ground games.
For Missouri, consensus five-star recruit and true freshman Luther Burden III had one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown. He could potentially make some headlines as the Tigers look to improve last year.
The Bulldogs continue the season on September 10 when they open their home slate against Stephen F. Austin. Missouri heads to Kansas State that same day.