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LA Tech Ousts UTSA 20-6, Earns Bowl Eligibility

The Bulldogs defense kept the Roadrunners out of the endzone in a gritty performance.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

LA Tech earned bowl eligibility for the fourth straight year in their season finale against UTSA. Behind the ferocious rushing of senior running back Boston Scott, the Bulldogs took care of a dull UTSA team rather handily.

Scott toted the football 20 times for 138 yards (6.9 avg), including a 35-yard touchdown dash where he dusted three UTSA defensive backs.

Quarterback J’mar Smith added another rushing touchdown of his own but was ineffective throwing the football, going just 7 for 21 for 101 yards and an interception. A pair of big completions to wide receivers Rhashid Bonnette and Teddy Veal managed to be the saving grace to Smith’s day through the air.

LA Tech’s offense managed to open the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive, largely in part due to critical penalties from UTSA’s defense. The Roadrunners had generated a stop on 3rd and goal but a defensive holding call gave the Bulldogs second life. Scott punched in a three-yard run to make it 7-0 just two plays later.

Later in the half, on their fourth drive of the game, UTSA’s offense would finally sustain a drive for more than five plays. Quarterback Dalton Sturm managed to move the ball effectively through the air and drive the Roadrunners down to the six yard line. With nowhere to run or pass, the team’s redzone struggles continued as they were instead pushed back for a loss of two yards. Place kicker Jared Sackett then had a rare miss on the ensuing 25-yard field goal attempt and the Roarunners remained scoreless.

Sturm only completed nine of his 16 pass attempts for 91 yards and two interceptions. An unfortunate stat line that could end up being his last as a Roadrunner if UTSA is not granted a bowl game invitation.

LA Tech took over from their own 8-yard line and punched in a field goal before the half to set the score at 10-0.

UTSA would manage to get on board after the half when senior safety Nate Gaines intercepted J’Mar Smith on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Gaines also led the defense with eight total tackles (six solo), a great game after almost being ejected after an overturned targeting call in the opening drive of the game.

The Roadrunners’ offense set up at the LA Tech 13 yard line. The offensive staff would then proceed to call five consecutive run plays to Jalen Rhodes, failing to convert on third and goal and instead settling for a field goal. Stubborn does not begin to describe the level of ineptitude displayed in the redzone offensive play calling for UTSA as it has now been eight quarters since the Roadrunners have scored a touchdown. Not to mention those were the last eight quarters of the regular season.

UTSA finished with 110 total yards rushing and 201 yards total. They had a chance to tie the game after recovering a botched punt return at the 11 yard line. The following play was a Dalton Sturm interception that came after Amik Robertson (5’9”) leaped up to snag a corner endzone throw to Josh Stewart (6’4”). LA Tech would cement the win on the following drive, capping off an 80 yard drive with a touchdown to set the final score at 20-6.

UTSA head coach Frank Wilson will be under a lot of scrutiny this offseason, regardless of whether or not he can lead UTSA to a bowl win. Now 6-5 overall (3-5 C-USA) with a completely dysfunctional offense, a lot of people will be curious to see if he makes any changes to his staff.

LA Tech, on the other hand, improves to 6-6 overall (4-4 C-USA) and finished fairly well considering their up-and-down season and this season’s roster changes.

It still remains to be seen if either UTSA or LA Tech will be invited to a bowl game, but chances are probably good for both given the many bowl games within driving distance of the two programs.