In this opening weekend, Louisiana Tech plays Northwestern State. Anybody who followed Tech football in 2014 remembers the last time these two teams played. Well, almost everyone. Some of us have blocked out the entire day of September 20, 2014, Total Recall style.
So here’s a refresher. Tech had just won against Louisiana-Lafayette and a North Texas. At the beginning of the year, many had picked UL-L to win the Sun Belt and the Mean Green to compete in a C-USA championship game. These weren’t supposed to be easy wins, so this Tech team had shown they may be able to get to a bowl game.
NSU was supposed to be an easy game. Skip Holtz had fielded questions the previous week about how early he’d start playing his backups. Turns out Holtz pulled his starters a little early, because after a 20 point 4th quarter, NSU won the game by three.
So in tribute to that painful day, here is a Top 5 countdown of the most painful plays in recent Tech football history.
Number 5: Kenneth Dixon’s fumble vs Kansas 2013
To be fair to Tech, the Bulldogs were in a down year after losing Head Coach Sonny Dykes and a large number of seniors. But Kansas was bad. Like really bad. Going into this game, the Jayhawks had lost 22 straight games against FBS teams.
The game was tied at 10 and Tech had the ball at Kansas’s 18 yard line with 1:47 left to go in regulation. Tech was trying to wind down the clock with short running plays to try to set up a game winning score. Dixon, usually sure-handed, fought a little too hard for extra yards and put the ball on the turf. Kansas drove back down the field to kick the field goal for the win.
Number 4: Failed 2-Point Conversion vs Texas A&M 2012
Even though Tech lost this game, I would argue that it was the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever been to. A #22 Texas A&M team and a #23 Louisiana Tech team met at Independence Stadium in Shreveport to play a game where 116 total points were scored. Tech struggled early, but fought to stay in it. With 38 seconds left and down by eight, Colby Cameron found Hunter Lee in the endzone. A two point conversion would tie the game and possibly force overtime.
Tech had many decent receivers in 2012, but one stood out: Quinton Patton. In this game alone, Patton had 233 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. The Aggies simply had no answer for him. So when Tech lined up to go for two, everyone expected a pass to go to Patton. Including the TV crew:
At first Patton only has one man covering him, but an A&M player notices and cheats in his direction. This second player is there to stop a short crossing route, but can do nothing to stop a fade to the outside. I would assume Coach Dykes and Cameron wanted to surprise Texas A&M by throwing to the other side of the field, but it wasn’t even close.
Number 3: Sokol’s INT vs Marshall 2014
In the team’s second year in the league, Tech had already made it into its first C-USA Conference Championship Game. On their first drive of the game, Tech scored the first points of the game, a field goal, to lead 3-0 halfway through the first quarter.
Tech held on to the lead until 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, when Marshall scored a touchdown to make the score 26-23 in favor of the Herd. Tech had time to go down the field and score. On the first play of the drive however, Marshall LB Evan McKelvey intercepted Sokol to seal the Thundering Herd’s victory.
The only upside of this play was that we got to see one of the top 5 hugs of all time.
Number 2. Failed 4th Down conversion vs Utah State in OT 2012
It was Tech’s last home game of the season of 2012. The team had gone 9-1 so far, with the one loss to a Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M team (see #4 above). Tech was getting a lot of national attention, and Orange Bowl officials came to Ruston to watch the game and gameday festivities.
The 20th ranked Bulldogs were down by 24 points late in the third quarter in a game they were favored by three. Luckily the high powered offense led by Colby Cameron and Quinton Patton was able to tie the game in the final seconds to force the game into overtime.
Tech won the toss and elected to go second in the first overtime period. Utah State scored a touchdown and an extra point, so Tech had to get seven points to keep the game going. A short run by Kenneth Dixon, a short pass to Hunter Lee, and an incomplete pass intended for Patton set up a 4th and 3. The hand-off went to Ray Holley, but he was unable to get much past the line of scrimmage, ending Tech’s chance at a BCS Bowl. The loss the next week against San Jose State didn’t help either.
Number 1. Sokol’s INT vs Northwestern State
Northwestern had just tied the game with a field goal. Tech had the ball with a minute to score to avoid overtime. On the first play of the drive, this happened. It wasn’t too much different than Number 3 against Marshall a few weeks later. Sadly, I don’t have any shots of the fireworks that followed.