Tech Survives OT Scare from UCA
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RUSTON - Freshman Nick Isham directed a 72-yard scoring drive in the final two minutes of regulation and running back Lennon Creer made up for a crucial fourth-quarter fumble as Louisiana Tech downed Central Arkansas 48-42 in overtime before 20,652 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.
Creer's fumble with 2:08 to play in the fourth quarter was returned 73 yards by UCA's Jerre McKnight as the Bears (1-1) took a 42-35 lead and were on the brink of the upset.
However, Isham - playing in only his second collegiate game - calmly led the Bulldogs down the field on a seven play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by Ray Holley's seven-yard scoring run with only 58 seconds to play.
The key play on the drive was a 49-yard pass hookup from Isham to Quinton Patton that put the Bulldogs inside the redzone. Patton ended the night with 211 yards receiving, tying him for 10th place all-time in a single game with former Bulldog Tommy Spinks who accomplished the feat in 1968 against Louisiana-Lafayette (formerly USL).
Two plays later, Holley scored his second rushing TD of the game and Matt Nelson's extra point tied it up.
Tech's defense forced a three-and-out on UCA's final possession as the final seconds ticked off the clock on a punt by Kevin Buford.
The Bulldogs won the toss and elected to go on defense to begin the overtime. Despite surrendering 372 yards through the air to UCA quarterback Nathan Dick, Tech's defensive unit stood tall in the extra period holding the Bears to three total yards on three plays and forcing a 39-yard field goal attempt by Eddie Camara, who had hit two earlier in the game.
However, linebacker Adrien Cole broke through the line to block the attempt, giving the Bulldogs offensive unit an opportunity to win the game.
Creer, who rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high 32 carries, took a handoff on the first play, cut right off tackle and galloped down to the two-yard line. Two plays later, he found the endzone, sending the Tech sideline and the Bulldog faithful remaining in the stands into a celebration.
Isham finished the game 22-of-37 for 318 yards and two scores with one costly interception late in the first half.
Patton, playing in only his second game for Tech, burned the UCA secondary twice in the opening quarter, the first time on a 42-yard strike from Isham, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 10:10 to play.
After UCA cut the lead to 7-3 on a Camara 39-yard field goal, Isham to Patton struck again - this time on a 72-yard bomb. It marked the longest pass play for Tech since Zac Champion hit Phillip Livas on a 70-yard pass in 2007.
Creer scored his first touchdown of the night in the second quarter on a five-yard run, giving Tech a 21-10 lead. Tech had one final opportunity in the second quarter to add to its lead but Isham threw an interception which was returned inside Tech territory, setting up a 3-yard scoring toss from Dick to Dominique Croom as Tech lead 21-17 at the half.
Holley (4-yard run) and Creer (12-yard run) scored in the third quarter to give Tech a 35-20 lead before UCA scored 22 unanswered points - the final seven coming on the 73-yard fumble return by McKnight.
Chad Boyd led Tech with 10 tackles, including 1.5 TFL, while Cole added nine tackles, one sack and 1.5 TFL.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday when they host Heisman Trophy candidate Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars.