Heartbreak has been the theme of the 2021 Louisiana Tech football season.
And in Saturday’s regular season finale, that theme held true.
Leading 31-21 with less than six minutes to play, Louisiana Tech saw Rice score two late touchdowns and then record an interception in the waning seconds as the Owls completed the 35-31 win over the Bulldogs.
The loss spoiled an opportunity for the Bulldogs to send Skip Holtz out a winner. Holtz was coaching his final game for Tech after the news released Friday that the University decided to go a different direction following the contest.
Saturday’s loss as the seventh time a Tech game was decided by a single possession on the year, with the Bulldogs dropping five of those decisions.
“It was a very chirpy game,” said Holtz, who ends his Tech nine-year tenure with a mark of 64-50. “There was a lot of talking going on. It was a very physical game. Both teams played extremely hard. There wasn’t a bowl. There wasn’t a conference, so it’s playing for pride at the end of the year and both teams competed really hard. Unfortunately, we made a couple too many mistakes tonight to be able to overcome them to win.”
LA Tech (3-9, 2-6 C-USA) took an early 10-0 lead after a 20-yard field goal by redshirt freshman kicker/punter Jacob Barnes and a 44-yard touchdown reception from freshman quarterback JD Head to freshman wide receiver Tre Harris. Rice (4-8, 3-5 C-USA) scored a pair of touchdowns to take the 14-10 lead at the half.
Head connected with sophomore wide receiver Smoke Harris for a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter for the 17-14 lead. After another touchdown by the Owls, Head rushed for a 22-yard touchdown and then found junior wide receiver Griffin Hebert for the 6-yard touchdown to lead 31-21 with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Rice trimmed the lead to 31-28 with just over four minutes to play. After forcing a three-and-out, the Owls returned a punt for 48 yards to the Tech 18 yard line where they went onto convert a touchdown for the 35-31 lead. Tech drove down the field to the Rice 33-yard line, but the Owls would intercept the ball to seal the victory.
Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood said the search for Holtz’s successor was starting immediately.
Photo: Darrell James
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