Dogs bully Lumberjacks

Marquis Crosby (33) rushed for 196 yards and two TDs to lead Tech to the 52-17 win over SFA (photo by Emerald McIntyre).

By Malcolm Butler

What a difference a week makes.

And, if truth be told, an opponent.

Nine days after suffering an opening season loss at SEC foe Missouri, Louisiana Tech was the one doing the bullying Saturday night.

Marquis Crosby rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns – all coming in the first half – to help lead the Bulldogs to a dominating 52-17 win over FCS foe Stephen F. Austin at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Tech scored early and Tech scored often as Sonny Cumbie picked up his first win as the Bulldog Boss. 

“It’s a great team win,” said Cumbie. “I was really proud of how our guys played. I like the improvement we showed from last week to this week and playing a good opponent here. Ultimately, our players are the ones who go out there and do all the execution, and our coaching staff prepared them, and they went out and did it, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Well at least it was for the Bulldogs. 

Tech (1-1) took the opening kickoff and drove the field as Smoke Harris scored on a 7-yard shovel pass reception, just reaching the football over the goalline and inside the far pylon with 11 minutes to play. Jacob Barnes’ first of seven extra points on the night made it 7-0.

The lone bright spot for the Lumberjacks (1-2) came on an interception return down to the Tech 1-yard line on the Bulldogs second possession. SFA quarterback Trae Self scored on the next play to tie the game at 7-7.

From that point forward it was nothing but offensive and defensive highlights for the Bulldogs as Tech scored the next 45 points of the game.

Charvis Thornton scampered for an 11-yard run – this came one play after Crosby took a handoff up the middle for 68 yards to set up the score. Parker McNeil, making his first start of the year, found Tre Harris for a 40-yard TD pass on the next possession as the Bulldogs led 21-7 at the end of one.

While the Bulldogs offense was sailing, the defense was assaulting. 

The Lumberjacks managed just two first downs and a total of 81 yards in the first half against the aggressive yet disciplined Bulldog D. 

“I think Coach Power did such a great job and really tried to take away what the opponent wants to do and really make them play left-handed, and he did that tonight,” said Cumbie about his defensive coordinator who served in the same role at SFA the past three seasons. “His staff prepared our guys really well. 

“Our players executed It, and again, if we don’t turn the ball over, they don’t get that touchdown early on and so, I think you’re minus seven points on the scoreboard. But just a round of applause, I’m proud of our defense, they tackled better, they were a little more physical team on the field, and they were very well prepared.”

Tech held SFA All-American receiver Xavier Gipson to only two receptions for 17 yards on the night. In total, three SFA quarterbacks completed just 11-of-31 passes for 161 yards and one score with one interception. 

Crosby found paydirt twice in the second quarter, the first coming on a third yard run up the middle and the second on a 42-yard run off left tackle where he cut to the far sideline and outraced the SFA defenders. 

Jacob Barnes added an 18-yard field goal on the final play of the first half as Tech led 38-7. 

The Bulldogs defense forced three third quarter turnovers, including a pair of fumble recoveries by J’Dan Burnett, including one he returned 30 yards for a score. Jaiden Cole added an interception, his first of the year. 

Tech’s lone offensive TD of the second half came on a 63-yard TD strike from McNeil to Griffin Hebert on a skinny post – the same play Griffin scored on last week against Missouri.

Cumbie unloaded the Bulldog bench in the third and fourth quarters. 

“As a coaching guys, we don’t want to cut our guys short, and they’ve got to get their reps,” said Cumbie. “They need to be able to rep plays and continue their improvement because we’re playing this game and we’re playing next week and playing South Alabama. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to use every rep we can to get better.”

Tech returns to action Saturday when they face No. 5 Clemson at Death Valley. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT. 

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