Home » College football: Louisiana Tech comeback falls just short against North Texas

College football: Louisiana Tech comeback falls just short against North Texas

by Russell Hedges

Louisiana Tech Athletic Communications

RUSTON — Louisiana Tech scored 17 straight points to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter, but North Texas drove down and kicked a game-winning field goal to come out on top in a 40-37 shootout on Saturday night inside Joe Aillet Stadium.

LA Tech (2-2) trailed for the entire game, including its largest deficit of 17 points after North Texas (1-2) scored on a 36-yard deep pass down the left sideline with 10:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.

That is when the comeback started.  Jack Turner, who replaced starter Hank Bachmeier late in the third quarter after he left the game due to injury, led the comeback. He punched in a 1-yard rushing touchdown to slice the deficit down to 10. 

Then with 1:20 to play, Jacob Barnesbooted a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to make a one-possession game. The special teams unit contributed on the very next play, recovering an onside kick to give the Bulldogs a chance to tie the game up.

That they did.  Tyre Shelton rushed for 12 of his game-high 152 yards on the first play. Turner then found Smoke Harris for a quick pass to the right for five yards. LA Tech essentially ran the same play, but this time Harris broke numerous tackles in route to a 36-yard touchdown to even things up at 37-37.

However, the Mean Green went eight plays to drive down the field and ultimately kick a 31-yard game-winning field goal with three ticks remaining to spoil the Bulldogs comeback bid.

LA Tech got off to a slow start yet again as North Texas outgained the home team, 173-4, in the first quarter which resulted in a quick 10-0 advantage.

After the Mean Green put through a 22-yard chip shot field goal, the Bulldogs finally moved the chains for a first down with 10:13 left in the second quarter. It would be the start of a drive that culminated in Bachmeier throwing his first completion, a 12-yard inside slant to Cyrus Allen for the TD.

UNT tacked on a third field goal late in the first half, but LA Tech countered again with a touchdown. This time it was Bachmeier’s second completion that found Harris who dodged tacklers across the middle and then raced to the pyline for a 19-yard score.

The two-point deficit was as close as the Bulldogs would get until Harris made it 37-all with his 22nd career touchdown reception, which is tied for the sixth most in school history.

QUOTABLES
DB Cecil Singleton
On what UNT did well…
“They were good at running the ball and dialing up plays on third down. We have to be better on third down moving forward. We have to look in at practice this week. Getting better on third down will be an emphasis this week.”

On what the game plan was for UNT QB Chandler Rogers…
“We knew he wanted to run first and pass second. We didn’t get the job done tonight.”

RB Tyre Shelton
On his performance on the ground…
“I felt like I did good but could always be better. We did a good job upfront and running the ball, but we didn’t get the job done. We have to do better next week and prepare for Nebraska. We have to clean up our mistakes and start off faster.”

On starting the game slow…
“We start practice with a fast-paced situations to get everyone going. Right now, it is not translating into the game. It is something we have to keep working at and get it fixed for next week.”

QB Jack Turner
On being prepared to come into the game…
“It was nothing different than if I was out there at practice. It is something you train for. Seeing Hank go down, you never want to see that in one of your teammates. There is a job to be done, I had to step in, be calm and do what you must do.”

On throwing the long ball late in the game…
“We had a lot of one-on-one opportunities with Cyrus. Using his speed and throwing it out there and trusting that he will go out there and get it.”

Head Coach Sonny Cumbie

Opening Statement…
“Yeah, just a disappointing loss for our football team and for our players, and our coaches as well. I’m sure for our fan base, an opportunity, to get to (3-1), really slipped out of our hands. There are a lot of positives to draw from in terms of the effort of our football team. The competitive spirit late, you’re down 17 points and you are able to comeback and tie the football game up. I was proud of how well we fought and how we competed. There were just too many mistakes that we made early in the game on offense in the first quarter. We were not productive at all with six plays in the first quarter and our defense played 54 snaps in the first half which is way too many. We only played 20. We have to execute better from the start of the football game. You look at the first two drives, it’s catching a pass and seeing where the ball needs to be gone. Our players aren’t afraid to fail, what I mean by that is, they spend themselves in a worthy cause, they keep fighting, and they have a lot of resiliencies about them. I tell you there is a lot of blame in the in-game decisions made, in terms of going for it on fourth down that could’ve helped us at the end. Those are things that just really sit with you, in your stomach, pretty rotten to know that you would have had a chance at the end of the game. There’s a lot of things out there and a lot of plays out there like that but I was proud of our football team and our players for competing.”

On North Texas being 11/18 on third down…
“I think the quarterback made some good throws and made some throws in some tight windows. They had a good plan on third down to attack us and freeze the plays for looking and seeing what we were doing. I think they made plays, and we didn’t, they got 18 third downs and we needed to get them off the field and we’ve got to convert on offense, and we didn’t help ourselves. We didn’t help ourselves at all by not converting our third down. Credit to their quarterback who made some really good throws, and he was able to extend plays with his feet.”

On Hank Bachmeier being ready to go next week…
“I think with his health and that’s the biggest thing is just seeing a right shoulder injury to a quarterback is pretty significant and so it’s just making sure that he’s able to throw the football effectively. That was really the main concern in the second half. I have a lot of belief in Hand and a lot of belief in Jack, we’ve said that since we started fall camp. There in the third or fourth quarter just didn’t know how, his shoulder, was in terms of keeping Jack out there. We’ll evaluate that tomorrow and on Monday and then the effectiveness as we go through the week of practice of him throwing the ball.”
NOTABLES

  • With the loss, LA Tech now leads the all-time series versus North Texas, 13-9-1. The Bulldogs are now 6-4 against the Mean Green in Ruston.
  • Tyre Shelton became the 62nd Bulldog in program history to rush for over 100 yards in a single game. The Bulldog rushed for a game-high 152 yards on just 16 carries.
  • Tyre Shelton reeled off a 55-yard rush, marking the fifth straight game that LA Tech has had at least one play from scrimmage go for over 50 yards. It was the fifth such play of the season.
  • Cyrus Allen caught his first touchdown reception of the season and the fifth of his career.
  • Smoke Harris had his fifth game of multiple receiving touchdowns. He now has 22 career touchdown grabs, tied for the sixth most in school history.
  • Smoke Harris now has 249 career receptions, the fifth most in program history.
  • Myles Heard registered a game-high 14 tackles. This comes after recording a career-high 15 tackles in the previous game against Northwestern State.
  • Jacob Barnes connected on a 30-yard field goal, improving to 7-of-9 on attempts this season. He is now 37-of-42 on career FG attempts of 39 yards or less.

UP NEXT
LA Tech will play its final non-conference game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 23 when they go on the road to face Nebraska. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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