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College football: Louisiana Tech closes spring practice with intra-squad game

by Russell Hedges

By Kane McGuire, Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director/Strategic Communications

RUSTON — Saturday’s game at Joe Aillet Stadium closed out spring practice for Louisiana Tech with the Blue Team prevailing in a defensive battle, 9-7.

The festivities began prior to the spring game on the east side of The Joe where the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place for the Jim Mize Track and Field Complex entrance and fence.

John Allen, a former member of the Southland Conference track and field championship team under coach Mize, spoke along with Louisiana Tech University President Dr. Jim Henderson and Director of Athletics/Vice President Ryan Ivey.

Many former student-athletes coached by Mize were on hand to see the official unveiling of the main entrance located off Stadium Boulevard which features prominent signage, lighting, and landscaping as well as a plaque honoring Mize who was at the helm of the LA Tech Track and Field program for 31 years.

Gallery: (4-27-2024) Jim Mize Ribbon Cutting 
Fans then made their way inside Joe Aillet Stadium to watch the 15th and final spring practice for the 2024 Bulldogs. After about 45 minutes of warmups, the spring game officially got underway with the defense shining early after back-to-back fourth-down stops.

“I think the spring game is an accumulation of what we have done for 14 practices,” said head coach Sonny Cumbie. “The guys did a great job this spring. I think there has been a lot of competition back and forth with the offense and defense. I think our defense is playing really fast, playing aggressive. It has presented challenges for us on offense. There are things we need to improve on offensively as we transition to May and June, but I was pleased with how our guys competed every day.

The White Team would find the end zone on their second drive, led by quarterback Jack Turner who hit Dedrick Latulas for a 27-yard gain. Following a run of 30+ yards on the ground by Donerio Davenport, Turner connected with Nate Jones who broke a tackle in space and crossed the goal line for the first score of the day.

“I thought the game went well,” said Turner. “The White Team started off a little slow, but we were able to get it going on that second drive. It was great having everybody out here and get excited about LA Tech Football. 

“I think communication and getting on the same page has improved. There has been a lot of progress made, but I know there is a lot of work left to be done. I am excited about where we are headed.”

The Blue Team responded with a scoring drive of their own, started by some trickery with a 25-yard pass to Marlion Jackson by a fellow wide receiver.  Jacall Wynder broke tackles for a 30-yard rush, setting up a short field goal by Buck Buchanan to put Blue on the scoreboard.

The defense continued to make stops with several sacks and run-stuffing plays. That was until the Blue Team pulled ahead led by Ty Keyes. The quarterback made a pair of first-down throws and scrambled for a 13-yard gain before finding Omiri Wiggins who outraced the defense for a 23-yard touchdown.

The Blue Team then sealed the victory with the lone turnover of the day, an interception over the middle by Isaiah McElvane.

Gallery: (4-27-2024) 2024 Football Spring Game 
The past was honored at the spring game as well with former Bulldog and two-time Super Bowl Champion L’Jarius Sneed was on hand. The Minden native and current Tennessee Titan addressed the team following the game.

“Our team follows L’Jarius very closely, every game he plays and the success he has had,” said Cumbie. “The humility he shows with our guys. He was very sincere with the team. I think it is a great encouragement. We thanked him for being here and thanked him for what he does in inspiring the guys in our program.”

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