LA Tech falls to Southern Miss in home finale, 35-19

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Jacob Barnes
Louisiana Tech redshirt freshman kicker Jacob Barnes (Photo: Emerald McIntyre).

RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech’s five turnovers proved costly in Friday night’s game against Southern Miss as the Bulldogs lost, 35-19, to the Golden Eagles inside Joe Aillet Stadium.

Things started off well for Louisiana Tech (3-8, 2-5 C-USA) as the Bulldog defense forced a turnover on the very first play of the Southern Miss (2-9, 1-6 C-USA) opening drive. Freshman linebacker Tyler Grubbs forced a fumble which senior linebacker Ezekiel Barnett recovered and returned for six yards to give the Bulldogs possession. Redshirt freshman kicker Jacob Barnes hammered in a 39-yard field goal to give the ‘Dogs an early 3-0 lead.

Southern Miss then drove down the field in its next possession where running back Frank Gore Jr. scored on a one-yard rush to put the Golden Eagles up, 7-3.

Barnes scored Tech’s first 12 points of the day as he was 4-for-4 in field goals, including two from 43-yards and two from 39-yards out. His first three field goals were each countered by a Southern Miss touchdown as USM took a 21-9 lead going into the half.

Southern Miss would end up forcing five turnovers Friday night with three fumbles and two interceptions which resulted in 14 points.

Louisiana Tech forced three turnovers of its own. After the forced fumble by Grubbs early in the first quarter, Barnett intercepted a Gore pass attempt and returned it 46 yards to the USM 20-yard line.

Grubbs had a hand in another forced turnover in the fourth quarter as he forced yet another fumble which senior linebacker Trey Baldwin recovered and returned for a 43-yard touchdown to make it a two-point game, 21-19, with just under 12 minutes to play.

The Golden Eagles came right back with a touchdown of their own to extend the lead to 28-19 with 6:37 to go.

LA Tech’s final two drives of the game both resulted in an interception, including one pick-6, as Southern Miss won it, 35-19.

Head coach Skip Holtz

“Offensively, we couldn’t protect the quarterback. We couldn’t hold onto the ball. It was a poor performance offensively. I give Southern Miss an awful lot of credit. They played hard and they made plays they needed to make down the stretch. The bottom line difference of this game is they came up with some big plays and we turned the ball over.”

• Louisiana Tech honored 18 seniors prior to the game for Senior Day: Jacob Adams, Willie Baker, Trey Baldwin, Cesar Barajas, Ezekiel Barnett, Reeves Blankenship, Baylen Buchanan, Chris Fournier, Isaiah Graham, Elijah Hamilton, Zeno Hannibal, Kellton Hollins, Austin Kendall, Eric Kendzior, Khalil Ladler, Malik Wells, Samuel Williams and Marcus Williams Jr.
• Southern Miss now leads the all-time series, 36-17.
• Trey Baldwin registered his second touchdown of the season with a 43-yard fumble recovery.
• Baldwin’s TD marked the first time a Bulldog returned a fumble for a touchdown since 2017 (DeJuawn Oliver vs. Northwestern State).
• Tyler Grubbs led Louisiana Tech with a season-high-tying 13 tackles. It marked Grubbs’ third double-digit stop outing of the season and eighth of his career.
• Grubbs had a career-high two forced fumbles, both of which were recovered by Louisiana Tech (Ezekiel Barnett, Trey Baldwin).
• Ezekiel Barnett recorded his first interception of the season which he returned for 46 yards. It was the fourth interception of his career.
• Jacob Barnes made a career-high-tying four field goals.
• Barnes was responsible for a season-high 13 points in the game.
• Greg Garner rushed for a career-high 64 yards on nine attempts.
• Smoke Harris led the Bulldogs in receiving yards (48) and tied for the team lead in receptions (4). The wide receiver has led the team in receptions in all 11 games this season.

LA Tech will wrap up the 2021 season at Rice on Saturday, Nov. 27, at noon CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

For all the latest in LA Tech Football, follow them on Twitter (@LATechFB), Instagram (@LATechFB) and Facebook (LATechFootball).

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