By Kyle Roberts
CLEMSON, S.C. – Despite trailing 13-6 at halftime, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-2) were overwhelmed in the third quarter on the road at Memorial Stadium by the No. 5 ranked Clemson Tigers (3-0), who scored 21 unanswered points in the third stanza en route to a 48-20 win.
“At halftime, I was really excited with where we were in the ballgame being down on one score and had opportunities in the red zone to be able to capitalize offensively and defensively,” Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie said. “We really withstood the early rush from Clemson, played well on defense, and the second half, it was the same thing that happened to us in Missouri. We turned the football over at inopportune times, and there’s no opportune times to do that as good as they are, at their place and that really got the game out of hand in the second half.”
The Bulldogs got the football to start the second half of play, but a costly interception by senior quarterback Park McNeil set up a one-play touchdown drive for the Tigers from 32-yards out on a rush by running back Will Shipley to extend the lead to 20-6.
Clemson followed up with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 34-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
Tech scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it would not be enough to rally from the deficit. Freshman running back Marquis Crosby capped off an eight play, 79-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 12:52 left to play in the ballgame. The Bulldogs cut it to a two-score game on their ensuing offensive possession with a touchdown reception by sophomore Tre Harris from 13 yards out.
“You’ve got to be proud of our kids for how they fought back,” Cumbie said. “We made it a two-score game and kinda put the ball back in their court. And they answered, and then we just have to finish better on offense and taking care of the football. Overall, really, really proud of the resilience of our team.”
Louisiana Tech committed four turnovers on the night, three of which were interceptions. The Tigers gained 25 first downs compared to 14 for the Bulldogs.
Offensively, the Bulldogs struggled with the run, as the Tigers outrushed Louisiana Tech 280 yards to just six. Tech outthrew Clemson with 311 yards through the air compared to 241.
“Parker did a very nice job of finding some holes in the zone coverage and some of the personnel groupings we were in,” Cumbie said of his starting quarterback’s efforts. “He gave us an opportunity to do that down the field. I thought that Parker battled; he got hit around a little bit. He got the ball out on time. We had a driver on three and nine; we had two drives and so in a four-quarter game, there’s not a lot of room for error. But I was proud of how Parker hung in there, threw the ball, got it out of his hand quickly, and until the second half, the interception, but I thought he competed very well.”
After allowing 10 Clemson points in the first quarter, the Bulldogs pulled in two field goals in the second quarter by sophomore kicker Jacob Barnes, first from 35 yards out with 12:46 to go in the second quarter, then from 27-yards out at the 3:18 mark.
Louisiana Tech returns to action Saturday, Sept. 24, on the road against South Alabama in Mobile, Ala. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
“I think our players are fighting,” Cumbie said. “We’ve just got to be smarter in terms of our execution on offense and taking care of the football. I think we’ve gotten better from the first week to the second week to this week. We’ve got another really good team we’re playing on the road again next week.”