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Football: La. Tech overwhelms Cajuns 48-20

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, September 7, 2014

A decade later, Louisiana Tech picked up right where it left off.

The Bulldogs beat UL 48-20 on Saturday night at Cajun Field, stretching its total of victories to seven straight in a series that had been dormant since 2004.

Louisiana Tech (1-1) did it behind 533 yards in total offense (UL had 415), Kenneth Dixon’s 184 rushing yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Cody Sokol’s 295 yards and two TD passes and three recovered turnovers including Xavier Woods’ 46-yard pick-six off a tipped Terrance Broadway pass.

The loss was a crushing one for the 1-1 Ragin’ Cajuns, so much that UL coach Mark Hudspeth did not permit any of his players to speak afterward with media members.

"I just told those guys I’m gonna take this humble pie for ’em and let them get some rest," Hudspeth said, "because they’re gonna need it tomorrow, because we’re fixing to get to work."

Although the Cajun coach didn’t feel much like talking either – "I think I’d rather have a root canal right now," he said – Hudspeth accepted much responsibility for what he called "a total team loss."

"Obviously when you give up that many points and when you don’t score very many, both (offensive and defensive game) plans were probably ineffective," he said. "And like I told our players, ‘It wasn’t the players’ fault totally. It was two plans that didn’t come together, and it was a lack of execution also.’ So, a lack of everything.

"It all starts with the top, so you can’t put this one on the players. I told them I put a little bit of the second half on them, but I thought in the first half they did what we asked. Played hard. And we (were) in the ballgame.

"When we got in the second half," he added, "we let some things go and that was probably the most disappointing part. But, overall, just a total team loss."

Dixon got things going for Louisiana Tech with a 99-yard run late in the first quarter that came just one play after UL’s Corey Trim downed a Daniel Cadona punt at the 1-yard line.

It was the longest run in Louisiana Tech and Cajun Field history.

"They had the one – I guess sort of the busted played play, where they go 99 yards, where we didn’t take our gap, and that’s sort of got some momentum going," Hudspeth said. "But we did not do anything in the first half to keep our defense off the field and score points.

"Then, in the second, it was where the defense, to me, dropped off even more, and then, offensively, sort of the same struggles."

UL answered Dixon’s TD with a 6-yard Alonzo Harris touchdown run early in the second quarter, but Louisiana Tech then ran off 34 straight points.

Sokol hit Hunter Lee with a 16-yard TD pass late in the second quarter, and Jonathan Barnes hit a 28-yard field goal with 10 seconds left before halftime to make it 17-7.

The backbreaker for UL: Sokol hit Sterling Griffin with a 78-yard pass after cornerback Trim fell, and before the third quarter was done Woods had his pick-six.

"Can’t give up the big plays," Hudspeth said. "Had two big plays that were just daggers."

Louisiana Tech ended its run of scoring with Dixon’s second TD, a 32-yard run, and a 42-yard Barnes field goal.

UL did squeeze a 20-yard Broadway scoring pass to senior Effrem Reed and a final-play Brooks Haack TD toss to true freshman Gabe Fuselier around a 2-yard Jarred Craft run, but this one was over well before all that.

In addition to the Broadway interception, UL lost fumbles by both Harris and tight end Larry Pettis. The Cajuns forced no Louisiana Tech turnovers.

"We have a plan to win, and when you don’t follow that plan to win you lose," said Hudspeth, whose Cajuns were coming off a season-opening win over Southern. "It’s pretty simple.

"You’ve got to take care of the ball, and you’ve got to cause turnovers. And we did neither. We had three turnovers, and they had zero. That’s two straight weeks that we have gone without causing a turnover. So, that’s tough to overcome."

Hudspeth clearly was not happy afterward.

But he indicated that he tried to spare his team most of the wrath.

"This is not a finger-pointing deal at anybody other than myself," Hudspeth said, "because I signed off on both those game plans – and obviously I’m gonna take the heat for this one, and we’re gonna move forward and we’re gonna find a way to get better.

"There’s two ways to do this as a head coach. You can go in there and grab some chairs and slam them against the wall and rant and rave. But you know what? You’re not really telling your team anything that they need to know to help them get out of this mud hole.

"So basically I told them, ‘This is on me. It starts with me,’ " Hudspeth added. "And I said, ‘Guys, I did not have you ready. We didn’t finish this game. We didn’t do the right things.’ And I said, ‘We’re gonna do a much better job.’ I said, ‘In return, though, you’re gonna have to give me a much-better effort doing your jobs.’ "