LA Tech hits the road for El Paso

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RUSTON, La. – The Louisiana Tech football team (6-1, 3-0 C-USA) will take its six-game winning streak on the road this weekend, taking on the UTEP Miners (1-5, 0-3 C-USA) on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT from Sun Bowl Stadium.

Date: Saturday, October 26
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium (51,500)
Live Stats:
Live Audio: (Louisiana Tech Football)
Live Updates: @LATechFB (Twitter)

PxP: Andy Morgan
Analyst: Trevor Vittatoe

Radio: LA Tech Sports Network
PxP: Dave Nitz
Analyst: Teddy Allen
Sideline: Malcolm Butler

Just past the midway point of the 2019 season, the Bulldogs find themselves at the top of the C-USA West Division standings after a 45-30 comeback win over Southern Miss last Saturday.

In its second largest comeback in the Skip Holtz era, the Bulldogs faced an early 14-0 deficit, but outscored the Golden Eagles 21-3 in the second half, earning its first 3-0 start in league play since 2014.

With the win Saturday, Tech also became bowl eligible for the sixth straight season under Holtz. Tech and Wisconsin are the only two programs in the nation with bowl wins in each of the last five seasons.

The Bulldogs have won six straight since dropping their season opener to then #10 Texas, which is the team’s longest winning streak since 2016. Tech also continued to receive national attention in both the AP and Coaches polls, picking up votes in each (2 in AP, 7 in Coaches).

Meanwhile, after winning its first game of the season over Houston Baptist, UTEP has dropped five straight contests, most recently falling to FIU, 32-17 in Miami last Saturday.

This marks the 16th overall meeting between the Bulldogs and Miners, and the sixth since both joined C-USA in 2013. Tech owns a 12-2-1 edge in the series, and has won six straight matchups, dating back to 2013. In El Paso, Tech leads the series 6-1-1 with the only loss coming in the first ever matchup between the two programs in 1939.

Junior cornerback Amik Robertson was the talk of the country after his three-interception performance against the Golden Eagles. The Thibodaux, Louisiana, native was named the Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week, the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week, the Jim Thorpe Award National Player of the Week and the LSWA Defensive Player of the Week.

Robertson is the first Bulldog to pick up national defensive player of the week honors since 2014, when Terrell Pinson was recognized as the nation’s top weekly defensive star.

Through 2+ seasons in Ruston, the junior cornerback has made his name as one of the nation’s best. Robertson has 14 interceptions in 33 games played as a Bulldog – the most among any active FBS player.

On Saturday, Robertson picked off C-USA passing leader Jack Abraham three times, as the Bulldog defense held Southern Miss to just three points in the second half in Tech’s 45-30 victory. With the feat, Robertson became just the third player in program history with three interceptions in a single game. He also added two additional pass breakups vs. the Golden Eagles, giving him five total passes defended on the day.

Robertson became the first C-USA player with three interceptions in a single game since 2017 (Jalen Young, FAU) and just the 12th in league history.

This season, Robertson leads all FBS with 16 passed defended. His five interceptions in 2019 are tied for second-most among national leaders.

Robertson has been credited with 43 passes defended in just 33 collegiate games (14 INTs – 29 pass breakups). That number is 4th most among active career FBS leaders.

This season, the Thibodaux, Louisiana, native has two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and is just one of two active players with three career pick sixes (Isaiah Rodgers – UMass).

Against Southern Miss, Tech extended its active takeaways streak to 11-consecutive games dating back to last season. The Bulldogs are just one six teams in the country with a current streak of at least 10 games with a takeaway.

Syracuse – 21
Maryland – 19
SMU – 18
Utah – 15
Ball State – 12
LA Tech – 11

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, quarterback J’Mar Smith, running back Justin Henderson and WR Malik Stanley are all coming off substantial performances last Saturday, as each was recognized by PFF College on the C-USA Offensive Team of the Week.

Smith strung together his ninth career 300-yard passing performance (second this season), tying him with Ryan Higgins for fourth-most 300-yard passing games in school history.

With receivers Adrian Hardy and Isaiah Graham missing last Saturday’s contest due to injury, redshirt senior grad transfer Malik Stanley stepped up in a big way with eight receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown.

Stanley was named LSWA Co-Offensive Player of the Week after his stellar performance in which he set career highs in both catches and yards.

With his performance, Stanley became the 14th Bulldog in program history with a 200-yard receiving game. The South Alabama transfer came down with all eight of his targets, averaging 26.5 yards per reception. Stanley also hauled in a crucial touchdown catch in the back of the end zone on 3rd and 5 for Tech’s first score of the day. He is just one of 12 FBS players with 200+ yards receiving in a single game this season (second in C-USA).

Henderson continued to tote the rock as Tech’s primary running back this season, rushing 19 times for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The redshirt junior leads C-USA with 10 rushing touchdowns, and has now put together three 100-yard rushing outings over his last four games.

With 589 rushing yards on 77 carries in 2019, Henderson is averaging a league-best 7.65 yards per carry (13th best nationally).

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