RUSTON, La. – Not much went right for the Idaho Vandals Saturday night at Louisiana Tech as they fell 70-28 in a Western Athletic Conference game.
From the opening play – when a fumble gave the ball to the Bulldogs on Idaho’s one, through 839 offensive yards, Louisiana Tech’s high-powered offense was more than the Vandals could handle.
“If we’re going to be in a shoot-out, we have to shoot,” coach Robb Akey said. “When we did get settled in, we didn’t get the run game stopped.”
Of Tech’s 839 yards, 408 were rushing and of those, 232 were by slippery Kenneth Dixon, who also scored six of the Bulldogs’ 10 touchdowns.
“That’s a heck of a thing to go through as a player,” Akey said. “But I’ve got respect for them. They kept fighting.”
The Bulldogs were on the scoreboard in no time after Todd Handley fumbled the opening kickoff and Louisiana Tech recovered inside the Idaho one. Kenneth Dixon scored on the one-yard run with just 12 seconds gone in the game. The PAT kick was good for the 7-0 lead.
Missed tackles haunted the Vandals on La Tech’s next drive, which covered 66 yards in 1:02 and was capped on the fifth play of the drive when Dixon went in from two yards out for a 14-0 Tech lead with 12:56 to go in the first.
Idaho came right back, though, when Blackman tossed the ball to Roman Runner who found Najee Lovett behind the defense for the 58-yard scoring play with 12:17 left in the first. Trey Farquhar’s kick made it 14-7.
The Bulldogs parlayed a fourth-down gamble near midfield into their third TD when Colby Cameron hooked up with Ray Holley for a two-yard score with 10:03 left in the first for the 21-7 edge.
The track meet continued when Handley atoned for the fumble when he romped 92 yards on the ensuing kickoff return to cut the gap to 21-14 with 9:50 to play in the first. It was the longest kickoff return of the season for the Vandals and Handley’s first career TD.
Dixon scored his third TD of the night – and the first quarter wasn’t halfway over yet, when he pushed through from the one with 7:58 left in the opening quarter for a 28-14 Tech lead.
The first quarter scoring wasn’t over yet. The Bulldogs added another on a pass from Cameron – this one to Quinton Patton and covering 20 yards for the 35-14 lead with :49 to go in the first. With that score, the Bulldogs set a record for most points against the Vandals in a quarter – a mark that had been 34 by the 1968 Weber State team.
Myles White slipped tackles and rolled through the defense to make it 42-14 after collecting a 36-yard pass from Cameron with 13:01 to go in the first half.
Dixon chalked up another one when he ran in from seven yards out with 9:50 to go in the first half for the 49-14 Tech lead.
Defensive tackle Jesse Davis set up the Vandals’ next score when he recovered a Tech fumble at the Idaho 13 and lumbered 84 yards before being pulled down at the Bulldogs’ three. He fumbled as he went down and Vince Keener recovered at the Tech one. The ball originally was given back to Tech. After the replay, the officials deemed Keener had covered Davis’ fumble and the ball went to the Vandals. James Baker scored from the one to make it 49-21 with 4:08 to go in the first half.
Back came Dixon for his fifth score of the first half when he went in from the two after setting up the TD with a 48-yard run. With 3:17 to go in the half, the Bulldogs went up 56-21. Those 56 points tied the 56 Washington State scored in a half against the Vandals in 1975.
Idaho held Tech on the Bulldogs’ first drive of the second half and drove to the Tech 20 before yielding the ball on downs on its first drive of the half. The Bulldogs did score on their next possession – it was Dixon again, on a 20-yard run with 7:28 to go in the third for the 63-21 lead.
On Idaho’s next possession, Lovett had first-down yardage near midfield on a reception from Blackman but fumbled and Tech covered it at the Idaho 44. Zach Griffith made it 70-21 when he ran in from the three with 4:02 left in the third.
The Bulldogs were moving again when the ball popped loose and Gary Walker recovered it at the Idaho 33. The opportunity was short-lived as Blackman was intercepted two plays later and Tech had the ball back at the Idaho 47 with 19 seconds left in the third.
As the fourth quarter opened, Tech was forced to punt for the first time in the game but the Vandals still didn’t come up with good field position with the drive starting at the Bulldogs’ five. A three-and-out and a 57-yard Bobby Cowan punt and Tech had the ball back at its own 44 with 11:52 to play.
However, on first-down Brandon Davis lost the ball and it popped up to Ryan Edwards to give the ball back to the Vandals at the 50. Mike LaGrone scored on a one-yard pass from Blackman with 8:31 left after a key fourth-down conversion by Mike Scott followed by a 33-yard pickup by Jahrie Level – both passes from Blackman. Farquhar’s kick made it 70-28.