What Just Happened?!? – Tech vs North Texas

A look at what just happened against North Texas in a three point loss for Louisiana Tech:

Quick Game Recap

North Texas started the game with three straight scoring drives while Louisiana Tech started with two three-and-outs. That’s all you really need to understand how the first quarter went Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Eighteen minutes into the game, and the Mean Green had picked up 14 first downs en route to 199 total yards of offense. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, had zero first downs and -2 total yards.

Tech was actually pretty lucky to even be down 13 at this point. On the Mean Green opening drive, a no-call pass interference and a would-have-been-touchdown drop forced Eric Morris to send out his field goal unit.

The “fun” part of Tech’s offensive ineptitude was that they could move the ball on the ground if they wanted to. The first two drives featured two run plays for 10 yards. It was the passing game that was holding the offense back.

And so on Tech’s third drive of the game, Cumbie allowed his running game to take over. Seven straight running plays moved the ball down the field, until a play-action pass to Cyrus Allen got the Bulldogs the final 12 yards and made it a 13-7 game.

The offense finally getting on the board transferred some momentum to the defense, as they forced a three-and-out. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Tech killed their subsequent possession. And no longer fueled by the energy of the offense, the Tech D yet again allowed North Texas to drive down the field and add yet another field goal.

But Tech’s big play potential showed up for the first time all night. A 56-yard dash by Tyre Shelton followed by Smoke Harris scoring play made it 16-14 late in the first half.

The Bulldog defense was able to get stops on first and second down of the next UNT drive. So trying to steal an extra possession before halftime, Sonny Cumbie called timeout. But instead of a needed third down stop, Chandler Rogers completed a 32-yard pass to get the Mean Green to midfield. Two more 20+ yard plays later and North Texas found the end-zone again, to go into the half up 23-14.

After intermission, the Bulldogs leaned on their run game yet again to move the ball down the field. But on a 4th & 2, an incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs.

The Bulldogs allowed touchdowns on two of the next three Mean Green drives, with the only saving grace being a fumble recovery by the Bulldogs leading to a quick touchdown. The drive started with a 33-yard pass by Jack Turner, who only came into the game to replace an injured Hank Bachmeier. But maybe some new blood was exactly what Tech needed, as they were back within 10 points to start the fourth quarter.

But the hopes for a comeback are short-lived. The seventh drive of seven or more plays on the night by the Mean Green again made it a three-possession game, 37-20 with just ten minutes remaining.

Another huge pass by Jack Turner (this time for 43 yards to Cyrus Allen) fueled a drive that again found the Bulldogs in the end-zone. It was back to a 10-point game, but surely this one was over with the game clock reading 6:27 remaining.

Well, for only the second time tonight, the Bulldog defense forced a three-and-out. A couple of 15 yard penalties helped Jack Turner’s offense move down the field, but they stalled on a fourth down at the North Texas 8.

Needing two scores anyway, Jacob Barnes was sent out to try (and make) a 30-yard field goal to make it 37-30 with 92 ticks left on the game clock.

Between 2014 and 2020, onside kicks were recovered 23.8% of the time in college football. That was higher than I would have thought, but it didn’t make what happens next any less exciting.

Both Barnes and Buchannan lined up with the possibility of performing the kick. Jacob Barnes was the one who dribbles the ball up the middle. And Tech’s Jeslord Boateng was the one who ended up with the ball. The possible penalty flag was picked up. It was Tech ball.

And a couple of plays later, it was a Smoke Harris screen pass (of all things) that got Tech into the end-zone with 64 seconds left. After the extra point, we were tied at 37.

But that was just too much time left on the clock. And Tech’s soft zone defense did them no favors, allowing North Texas to drive down the field and set up a chip-shot attempt by kicker Noah Rauschenberg for the win. The kick was good and the Mean Green finally got to put a “1” in their win column.

The Good

It’s hard to come off the bench and try to make a game interesting late. And that’s exactly what QB Jack Turner did, regardless of the result.

The Bad

On 50 quarterback dropbacks, the pass rush reached Chandler Rogers just once. And yes it was cool for Jesslord Boateng to complete the sack while being held, but one sack is not enough.

The Ugly

The prevent-style defense DC Scott Power employs when he wants to prevent the opponent from going over the top. This directly resulted in UNT scores before the ends of both halves.

Our Postgame Thoughts

Evan Spencer

Our offense got MUCH better and more explosive when Jack was in. I wonder why that was? Probably a combo of us being down a significant amount and the game plan with Hank sorta going out the window? But Cumbie’s play calling seems a lot better when his back’s against the wall than it does when it’s like The Plan™️

Daniel Adams

8 percent of men are red-green colorblind, so the odds are good that at least one person on the sideline Saturday night had a very hard time following the game

Nathan Ruppel

I don’t think Jack Turner is “the answer” like I’ve seen some people say. If he starts the rest of the year, I’d expect to see him end with more interceptions than touchdowns. But he was exactly who Tech needed late. Throw some 50/50 balls deep and see what happens. And almost worked to steal Tech a win.

What's Next?

Want to read more about Tech’s last second loss to North Texas, check out BleedTechBlue’s recap post here.

Next Game: Tech travels to Lincoln next Saturday at 2:30 pm CT to face Nebraska. The game will be broadcast on the B1G Network.

Oh, and the betting line is already in, so go fill out the gtpdd Contest before you forget!

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