Louisiana Tech used a 28-point first half and 343 total rushing yards on the day to propel the Bulldogs to a 42-21 victory over UTEP on Saturday afternoon at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso.
The 21-point victory ended a two-game skid for the Bulldogs as Louisiana Tech moved to 5-6 on the season with a 3-4 record in Conference USA play. The UTEP Miners dropped to 0-11 and 0-7 in league games.
Louisiana Tech registered 546 yards of total offense against the Miners, while the Bulldogs had two 100-yard rushers in Jaqwis Dancy (15 carries, 135 yards, 1 TD) and Boston Scott (22 carries, 134 yards). Scott and Dancy also combined for 43 receiving yards in the win. Today’s win marked the most rushing yards by a LA Tech team since the 2013 team against UTEP. The game also marked the first time LA Tech has had two 100-yard rushers in a game since last season against Rice.
Quarterback J’Mar Smith was 15-for-28 passing for 203 yards and two touchdown passes, while the sophomore also added for 49 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
Dae’Von Washington was LA Tech’s leading tackler on defense with eight total tackles, while the defense recorded two interceptions on the day with Amik Robertson and DaMarion King both picking off UTEP quarterback Ryan Metz.
It was a tough start for the visitors from Ruston after a pair of fumbles by Louisiana Tech’s wide receivers early in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs put together a complete drive thanks to Boston Scott after the senior running back accounted for 55 yards on a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was capped off by his 23-yard touchdown reception with just over a minute to play in the opening period.
UTEP threatened to get into the end zone early in the second quarter after driving all the way down to the 14-yard line, but a series of penalties forced the Miners to attempt a 38-yard field goal that sailed wide right to keep it a 7-0 ball game in favor of the Bulldogs.
The third fumble of the game came in the second quarter after Dae’Von Washington forced the loose ball while UTEP was in the red zone before Elliot Blankenship had the recovery for the Bulldogs.
On the ensuing drive, LA Tech’s Jaqwis Dancy broke loose for a career-long 54-yard rushing touchdown to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to a 14-point advantage midway through the second quarter of play in the Sun City.
LA Tech’s defense continued its opportunistic first half on UTEP’s next offensive drive when DaMarion King picked off Ryan Metz and returned his first career interception 71 yards to the house to make it a 21-0 lead for the Bulldogs toward the end of the first half.
The Bulldog defense forced UTEP to punt on its next drive to give LA Tech the ball back with two minutes until halftime. LA Tech responded by driving 72 yards on six plays to extend the lead to 28-0 over UTEP at the midway point thanks to a 10-yard rushing touchdown by J’Mar Smith.
It took nearly 10 minutes into the third quarter for either team to produce points, but it was the Miners who put together a 14-play drive that lasted nearly seven minutes before an 11-yard rushing touchdown by Joshua Fields cut LA Tech’s lead to 28-7 with 5:33 left in the quarter.
LA Tech’s third quarter woes continued on Saturday after UTEP put up another score later in the period on an 83-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Metz to Kalon Beverly to make it a 28-14 game in favor of the Bulldogs.
At the start of the fourth quarter, LA Tech’s second half scoring drought ended after the Bulldogs drove 75 yards on the next possession as Smith connected with Teddy Veal in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-14.
UTEP continued to put up big numbers offensively in the second half as the Miners needed just four plays and a minute and a half to drive 75 yards for Metz’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Kavika Johnson to make it a 35-21 lead for LA Tech with just under 10 minutes to play in the fourth.
Smith capped off the scoring on Saturday by giving the Bulldogs a 42-21 lead over UTEP on a 9-yard rushing touchdown with less than four minutes to go to seal the victory for Louisiana Tech.
Louisiana Tech will return home next week for the regular season finale as the Bulldogs host UTSA at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston.