by Malcolm Butler
A few weeks ago, freshman Jacob Fields was roaming the secondary and lost deep down the depth chart at the secondary position for Louisiana Tech.
Saturday night, he was a hero.
Fields, who was moved to running back a few weeks ago due to injuries at the position, made the most of his touches Saturday night at Joe Aillet Stadium.
With Tech trailing 17-16 and out of time outs in the final two minutes, Fields reeled in a pass, made a man miss, and raced 20 yards down to the FIU 33-yard line. It was his first collegiate touch.
Two plays later, Fields took a handoff, bounced off left tackle, juked a defender and ran 30 yards to paydirt to give the Bulldogs a 22-17 win over FIU in the season opener for both teams.
The score came with 1:01 to play in the game and gave Tech its first lead of the night.
It was truly a Fields-good moment.
“It was a staff decision,” laughed Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie when asked in the postgame interview whose decision it was to move Fields over to the offensive side of the football.
Tech was without Marquis Crosby and Tyre Shelton (both out due to injury) and then lost Charvis Thornton to an ankle injury in the first quarter. Keldric Moody and Keith Willis saw most of the action at running back before Fields made his mark on the final drive.
While Fields was playing hero late, the Bulldog defense was the real star of the night. After giving up two first-quarter touchdowns to the Golden Panthers, Tech’s D was phenomenal the rest of the night.
Tech held FIU to just 18 total yards of offense on 20 plays in the second half and only one first down. It was a dominate performance by a much-maligned unit a year ago that ranked among the worst in FBS in numerous statistical categories.
“The win feels good,” said Cumbie. “It’s just one. We have 11 more and they will get harder. But hopefully this win will give us some confidence moving forward.”
The Tech defense put an exclamation on the win with Cecil Singleton’s interception with less than a minute to play, allowing Hank Bachmeier to kneel in victory formation twice as the clock struck zero in a Week Zero win.
Bachmeier was solid all night, using check downs time after time to pick up key first downs. He completed 34-of-44 passes for 333 yards and one score, but none bigger than a 12-yard strike to Cyrus Allen on a fourth-down-and-five play with the game on the line and the Bulldogs without any timeouts.
“You have to remember, he hasn’t played any football since October,” said Cumbie. “The guy traveled across country and is in an entirely new place. I thought once he settled down, he was really good.”
With Tech trailing 17-3 late in the second quarter and no offense to speak of, Bachmeier hit Smoke Harris on a quick slant that resulted in a 64 yard TD strike, giving the Bulldogs life and momentum. Harris caught 11 passes for 155 yards and one score.
One year after torching Tech for over 400 yards through the air, FIU QB Grayson James completed just 5-of-14 passes for a mere four yards.
Jacob Barnes hit 3-of-5 field goals in the win.
Tech returns to action Saturday when it travels to SMU for an 11 a.m. kickoff.