JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – It started badly, and it ended worse.
The Louisiana Tech football season ended in crushing fashion as the Bulldogs fell behind on the sixth play from scrimmage, trailed by three touchdowns in the first quarter and could not slow down Jacksonville State in a resounding 56-17 loss Saturday afternoon at Burgess-Snow Field at Jacksonville State Stadium.
Seven Jax State rushing touchdowns combined with a bad day offensively was too much for Tech to overcome as the Bulldogs ended their season 3-9 overall, 2-6 in Conference USA. The Gamecocks rose to 8-3 in their first season of CUSA and FBS membership, 6-1 in league play.
Tech was outgained 628-269 as JSU piled up 522 rushing yards.
“It was disappointing and very embarrassing. We don’t come out to play on any side of the football,” said Sonny Cumbie, whose second season as Louisiana Tech’s coach concluded. “Jacksonville State dominated us and we did not answer the bell. Any type of momentum we tried to create, whenever we had things go our way we didn’t capitalize on it.
“It was a long day for us and we have a lot of work to do as we had into the offseason,” he said.
Senior receiver Smoke Harris became just the second player in Bulldogs history to record 300 career receptions when he hauled in a 14-yard pass in the first quarter. But that was one of few bright spots for the visitors as Jax State roared to a 42-10 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs went three and out to start the ballgame before the Gamecocks quickly got on the board two plays later courtesy of rushes of 68 and two yards by running back Malik Jackson to take a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Jax State added to its lead to 14-0 by returning a blocked punt 21 yards for a touchdown with 8:44 left in the first quarter.
Following a critical fourth-down conversion, Jackson added another touchdown on a 13-yard rush to make it 21-0 in favor of the hosts.
The Bulldog offense got going on its next chance. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier connected with Harris on passes of 14 (the milestone catch) and 17 yards before threading the needle to find Cyrus Allen on a 31-yard touchdown pass to bring to Tech within 14.
Jax State added its third rushing touchdown of the day with a 13-yard touchdown run by Ron Wiggins to cap a four-play 81-yard scoring drive for a 28-7 lead. Quarterback Zion Webb added seven more on a 34-yard keeper with 7:32 in the clock in the second period.
The Gamecocks took a 42-7 lead as Webb scampered in from eight yards out in the final minutes before the half.
Tech’s Buck Buchanan made a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make it 42-10 at the break.
The Bulldogs made it 10 unanswered on an outstanding special teams play when Joshua Cobbs blocked a Jax State punt that Michael Richard returned for a touchdown to make it 42-17.
Jax State responded on the ground again, with Webb finding the end zone from 29 yards out. The Gamecocks then tacked on another rushing touchdown on their following drive courtesy of an Anwar Lewis nine-yard rush to increase the lead to 56-17.