Louisiana Tech 22, Florida International 17
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-0) opened the season squeaking by the FIU Panthers (0-1) at Joe Aillet Stadium on Saturday night. The home opener saw the start of new Bulldog quarterback Hank Bachmeier who passed 33 for 44 for 333 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Smoke Harris reached the end zone once for the Bulldogs and had 11 receptions for 155 yards rushing.
FIU’s Shomari Lawrence gave the Bulldog defense fits as he rushed 143 yards on 15 carries.
Bulldogs defense saw Myles Heard and Brevin Randle get 9 tackles each. Cecil Armstrong snagged an interception for LA Tech.
FIU scored in the first minute of the game as Lawrence bolted on a 67-yard run for a touchdown. With 7:12 remaining in the first quarter, D’Verik Daniel snagged an interception for the Panthers at midfield. The Panther reached the Bulldog 6. Antonio Patterson crashed the end zone on a 6-yard rumble to give FIU the 14-0 lead and hold to the end of the first quarter.
Tech started the second quarter on the FIU 30 but could only gain 7 yards. Jacob Barnes gave the Bulldogs its first score of the season with a 40-yard field goal and cut the lead to 14-3. FIU came back down the field on big runs by Grayson James and Lawrence to reach the Tech 31. Bulldog defense held back the Panthers to a fourth down on the Bulldog 26. FIU had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Chase Gabriel. Tech made another move to close the gap on a 12-play, 55-yard drive. The Bulldogs’ Barnes would miss a 37-yard field goal. FIU had a quick 3 and out. The Bulldogs got a second chance to close the gap. Bachmeier connected with Smoke Harris for a 64-yard touchdown pass and Tech had closed in 17-10. Tech defense would hold the Panthers to another 3 and out. The Bulldogs would start on their own 11 with 2:22 remaining in the half. Short passes would get Tech only about 10 yards. Tech called timeout with 49 seconds remaining. Bachmeier let it fly to get a scoring chance before halftime. Bachmeier passed to Kyle Maxwell for 14 yards followed by another pass to Cyrus Allen for 13 yards which put the Bulldogs in Panther territory Smoke Harris took a 28-yard pass from Bachmeier to reach the Panther red zone with 17 seconds remaining in the half. A 5-yard pass to Keldric Moody put the Bulldogs on the FIU 15 with 4 seconds remaining. Jacob Barnes was called in to add a field goal and he connected with a 32-yard field goal to close the Bulldogs with 17-13 at halftime.
The defense prevailed in the third quarter as neither team could change the score. Tech fumbled on the first drive of the second half and gave the Panthers the ball near midfield. Each team was three and out for the next few drives. Running back Keith Willis, Jr. and Bachmeier tried to give Tech another scoring opportunity and was the only drive to crack the other’s territory in the third quarter. After a sack and a backfield stop on a run, the Bulldogs had to punt. FIU maintained the 17-13 lead after three quarters.
Tech started the final quarter in FIU territory. Bachmeier hit Harris on a 12-yard pass to push the Bulldogs to the FIU 32. Tech would gain 3 more yards before relying on Jacob Barnes again. Barnes nailed a 46-yard field goal and FIU’s lead was cut to 17-16 with 12:52 remaining. FIU was taking short-yard runs to a first down. Lawrence was handed the ball and gained another 3 yards. A holding penalty on the next play would make it 2nd and 17. Tech made a tackle for loss for 2 yards and forced a 3rd and 19. Lawrence tried to get the first but only got 8 yards. FIU would have to punt again. Tech would start on their own 28. A couple of first downs and the Bachmeier and Harris connection struck again on a 16-yard pass to put the Bulldogs on the FIU 33. Tech would try to take the lead on Barnes’ field goal again. The 43-yard field goal was no good. FIU maintained the 17-16 lead with 3:30 remaining. FIU once again struggled with the Tech defense. The Panthers had not entered Bulldog territory since 10:06 in the second quarter. Tech would hold FIU on a no-gain run by Lawrence on a 3rd and 2. The Panthers would have to punt. Tech started the drive on their own 31 with 2:28 remaining. The first set of downs was not looking well as Tech only gained 5 yards in three downs. Facing a 4th and 5, Bachmeier found Cyrus Allen on a 12-yard pass to get the first down. Bachmeier completed a 20-yard pass to Jacob Field to reach the FIU 32. Jacob Field broke loose on a 30-yard run to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game with 1:01 remaining at 22-17. Harris went for the two-point conversion but failed. FIU had one last opportunity. The offensive woes continued for the Panthers. Cecil Singleton snagged the interception to give the Bulldogs the win.
Louisiana Tech will be on the road to Dallas to face SMU Mustangs on Saturday, September 2 at 11 am. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and KXKZ 107.5.
Next Week Games
Saturday, Sept 2
Louisiana Tech at SMU (11 am, ESPNU)
Grambling State at Hampton (2 pm, NFL NETWORK)
NSU at Louisiana (7:30 pm, ESPN+)