LA Tech’s rally falls short to No. 23 NC State

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LA Tech at NC State
(Photo: Darrell James)

RALEIGH, N.C. – Down 14 midway through the fourth quarter, Louisiana Tech made a late surge and had a chance to tie things up with No. 23 NC State on the last play of regulation but the pass was intercepted in the end zone, resulting in a narrow 34-27 loss on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The nationally-ranked Wolfpack having just defeated top-10 ranked Clemson while statistically having one of the best defenses in the country.

LA Tech (2-3) proved they were not afraid, amassing 480 yards of offense thanks in large part to the arm and legs of Austin Kendall. Despite missing the previous game due to medical reasons and having little practice time to prepare, the quarterback lit up the NC State (4-1) defense.

He threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns while also adding a team-high 71 yards on the ground.

His first touchdown pass went to fullback Jacob Adams who he found all alone in the end zone on a roll out from six yards away to tie things up at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

Field goals produced the next round of points for both teams with Jacob Barnes knocking through a 21-yard chip shot and the Wolfpack getting a 36-yarder as well as a 29-yarder just before halftime to take a 13-10 lead into the locker room.

Barnes’ second made field goal in the third quarter was bracketed by NC State touchdowns as the Wolfpack built a 27-13 advantage with 3:02 to play in the stanza.

After going seven straight drives without finding the end zone, Kendall led the Bulldogs on a quick 5-play, 68-yard drive that was finished off by a 23-yard touchdown to Bub Means to get back to within one possession.

The Wolfpack used the ground game again to go up 34-20, but LA Tech countered with a 75-yard drive that resulted in another touchdown pass by Kendall, this one to Griffin Hebert who caught the ball at the 5-yard line and then bulldozed his way in for the score.

After the LA Tech defense forced a three-and-out, the offense was handed the ball on their own 11-yard line with 2:56 still to go in the game. They overcame a sack, a false start penalty and converted a long 4th-down to have one shot at the end zone from 22 yards away, but it was intercepted.

QUOTABLES
Head coach Skip Holtz

“There is not a moral victory in being close. We did not come here to play close. We came here to win. We have been through the rough side of the mountain. We have had a very difficult non-conference schedule. That is going to make us better. We have to get determined to eliminate some of the mistakes and do a better job as a staff. I want to win because I know how bad the players want it and how hard they are working. It is gut-wrenching as a coach because you are not able to get them across the finish line.”

NOTABLES
• For the fifth straight time, LA Tech had a game that was decided by one possession.
• LA Tech put up 480 yards of total offense, the most allowed all season by nationally-ranked NC State (previous high was 316 by Mississippi State). The Wolfpack came into the game ranked seventh in the country in total defense.
• The 27 points was the most scored on No. 23 NC State this season.
• Despite missing the last game due to medical reasons, Austin Kendall put up 341 yards in the air to go along with three touchdowns. It marks his second straight game of 300+ yards. He now has 10 touchdown passes this season.
• Austin Kendall anchored the Bulldogs on the ground as well, setting career-highs for rushing attempts (15) and rushing yards (71). He came into the game having rushed a total of 18 times in his three games played.
• Marcus Williams, Jr. ran the ball 16 times for 59 yards. He has recorded 13+ carries in all five games this season.
• Jacob Adams reeled in a career-high three receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown. It was his first receptions of the season and his second career TD.
• Griffin Hebert hauled in his first touchdown reception of the year, a score that put the Bulldogs within seven points of NC State late in the fourth quarter.
• Trey Baldwin had a game-high and season-high 11 tackles. It marked the fifth time in the linebacker’s career he has registered 10+ tackles in a single game.
• Jacob Barnes went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, connecting from 38 and 21 yards. He improved to 7-of-8 on the season and 19-of-22 in his career.

UP NEXT
Louisiana Tech will have a bye week before returning to the field on Saturday, Oct. 16 to take on UTEP in El Paso, Texas. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT.

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