Dogs drop season finale

Charvis Thornton rushed for over 100 yards and a TD in Tech’s season finale against UAB. (photo courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications)

by Malcolm Butler

Under a blanket of grey skies and steady rain through most of the game, Louisiana Tech saw its 2022 season come to an end Saturday as the Bulldogs fell 37-27 to UAB during the season finale at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Fourteen Bulldog seniors were honored during a pregame on-the-field ceremony conducted as rain drops pelted those in attendance.

Dewayne McBride set the UAB single season rushing record, while amassing 274 yards and one score on just 16 while as the Blazers totaled 406 yards on the ground in the win. Jermaine Brown Jr. added 119 yards rushing and two scores for UAB (6-6, 4-4 C-USA).

Tech (3-9, 2-6 C-USA) entered the game with only pride and its senior class to play for and early on it appeared as if the Bulldogs would use those factors to their advantage.

“It was a challenge today for our team to see who could go out and play really hard and I think we had guys that did that,” said Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win for the seniors as they head out and pursue their dreams whether that is the NFL or wherever their degrees take them.

“I am really proud of that group for what they have done and change is very hard especially for older players. They allowed us to come in here and earn their trust. I am very appreciative of everything they did here and before we got here.”

After a Buck Buchanan 46-yard field goal gave Tech the early lead, UAB rode the legs of McBride and Brown to score 17 second quarter points. Brown scored on a 29-yard run and then the Blazers scored on a 14-yard return of a blocked punt to grab a 17-3 advantage.

Buchanan connected on a 49-yard field goal of the final play of the first half to close the deficit to 17-6 at the half.

Tech backup quarterback Jack Turner was inserted in the game late in the second quarter and played the rest of the game for the Bulldogs. He helped Tech to three second half touchdown drives, although the Bulldogs were unable to close the deficit closer than 10 points.

UAB scored on its first three drives of the second half — TD runs by both McBride and Brown and a 74-yard play-action pass for a score — as the Bulldogs defense struggled to get a stop.

Tech’s offense was able to answer each one of the Blazers scores. Charvis Thornton scored on a 63-yard TD run that saw Thornton break a tackle at the line of scrimmage and then outrace the Blazers to the end zone.

Turner then hit Tre Harris on a 17-yard TD pass that closed the deficit to 30-20 late in the third quarter. Turner completed 15-of-25 passes for 167 yards and one score along with one interception.

“I thought Jack did some good things,” said Cumbie. “We wanted to give him an opportunity to show what he could do. We had gotten kind of stagnant offensively in the second quarter. I didn’t think Landry (Lyddy) played bad. We just made the decision to give Jack an opportunity in the second half.”

The Bulldogs final score came on a 1-yard TD run by Marquis Crosby with 6:10 remaining in the game to pull Tech to within 37-27. The Tech defense got a number of stops in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs offense came up empty on three of its final four possessions (punt, interceptions, downs) as UAB was able to run out the clock for the win.

Thornton rushed for a career-high 132 yards and a TD on just eight carries while Crosby added 72 yards and a score on 18 totes.

“Our focus turns to the next couple of weeks,” said Cumbie, referring to football signing day in December.