Louisiana Tech brings 7-game winning streak to Poinsettia Bowl

Louisiana Tech put together a strong 2011 season, showing their strength offensively and defensively throughout the year. Though they finished with an 8-4 record, they could just as easily be 11-1. They lost to Southern Mississippi, Houston, and Mississippi State by a total of nine points, and allowed over 35 points only twice.

True freshman quarterback Nick Isham started the first six games of the season, leading them to a 2-4 record, but failed to consistently close out games. Isham fought hard against two eventual top 25 opponents but could not pull out the win in either match up. Colby Cameron took over midway through the season against Utah State and led the Bulldogs to victory in his first quarter of play. If Cameron gets hurt, Isham is a quality quarterback that can keep them in the game.

The Bulldogs have plenty of strength at running back with Hunter Lee and Lennon Creer, both rushing over 100 yards three times this season. Quinton Patton leads the team in both receiving yards (1,135) and receiving touchdowns (10).

The Louisiana Tech defense can handle itself as well, ranking 34th in points allowed this season. Linebacker Jay Dudley leads the team with four interceptions, two of those returned for touchdowns, and four other Bulldogs have two or more interceptions on the season.

Defensive end Christian Lacey has 8.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, and linebacker Adrien Cole has 120 tackles.

Their 8-4 record may lead some to believe the Bulldogs would be a pushover opponent in the Poinsettia Bowl, but if TCU does not come out strong and ready to fight for four quarters, Louisiana Tech could pull off the upset. They have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball and have shown this season that they can hang with Top 25 programs.

Louisiana Tech Timeline

The Bulldogs started off their season with a 19-17 loss to the eventual Conference USA champion Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. Louisiana Tech managed only 13 first downs and 244 total yards, but they took advantage of Southern Miss turnovers and kept the game close. The Bulldogs lost on a field goal with less than three minutes left in the game.

Louisiana Tech bounced back  against Central Arkansas, tallying 26 first downs and 542 total yards. The Bulldogs went into overtime against the Bears, but their balanced offensive attack was enough to grab the first win of the season. Freshman quarterback Nick Isham completed 22 of 37 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns, and junior receiver Quinton Patton caught eight passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bulldogs continued to play to the level of their opponents in game three as they kept it close against the Conference USA runner-up Houston Cougars. Louisiana Tech had a 34-7 lead late in the third quarter, but Case Keenum led the Cougar offense back with 28 unanswered points. The Bulldogs lost 35-34, dropping their record to 1-2.

Early season struggles continued for the Bulldogs as they lost an overtime game to Mississippi State. Louisiana Tech drove into field goal range with less than four minutes left, but Nick Isham threw an interception to end the drive. Isham threw his second interception two plays into overtime, and Mississippi State scored two plays later, winning 26-20.

The Bulldogs struggled defensively against Hawaii, allowing 494 total yards and losing 44-26. Warriors quarterback Bryant Moniz threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns, leaving Louisiana Tech no room for error. The Bulldogs’ worst defensive performance of the season led to their last loss of the season.

Louisiana Tech ended a three-game losing streak and began a winning streak against conference foe Idaho when they won 24-11. Walk-on running back Hunter Lee ran for 134 yards as the Bulldogs evened their conference record at 1-1. This game was the first of a seven-game winning streak that has not yet ended.

The Bulldogs showed their depth against Utah State when backup quarterback Colby Cameron took over in the third quarter, leading Louisiana Tech to a 24-17 win. Trailing 17-14 at the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored ten points in the fourth quarter to grab their third win of the season.

Quarterback Colby Cameron continued his success against San Jose State, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and winning the starting job. Quinton Patton caught five passes for 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns, leading the Bulldogs to a 38-28 win at home. The high-powered Louisiana Tech offense helped them pull to .500 eight games into the season.

The Bulldogs grabbed their fifth win of the season over Fresno State 41-21 with the offense leading the way once again. Cameron continued to improve, throwing for 358 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Lennon Creer added 113 rushing yards and a touchdown as Louisiana Tech won their fourth in a row.

The Bulldogs became bowl eligible against SEC opponent Ole Miss, winning 27-7 on the road. The defense allowed only one touchdown in the first quarter, all the Rebels could muster despite totaling 307 yards. Hunter Lee led the offense with 127 yards on 24 carries, but the defense scored two touchdowns on a fumble recovery and an interception in the second half.

Cameron bounced back against Nevada, throwing three fourth quarter touchdowns on 355 yards as the Bulldogs topped the Wolfpack 24-20 on the road. They trailed 20-3 in the fourth quarter, but Louisiana Tech fought back for yet another comeback win, scoring with 51 seconds left to clinch the victory.

Louisiana Tech won its first Western Athletic Conference championship since 2001 when they took down New Mexico State 44-0. Hunter Lee continued his success on the ground, rushing for a career high 148 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs accepted an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl after clinching the WAC title.