Luke Anthony leads Louisiana Tech in shootout to take home opener
RUSTON, La. – Luke Anthony threw five touchdowns and ran for another to lead Louisiana Tech to a 66-38 win over Houston Baptist Saturday night before a “Covid19 sellout” of 7,140 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Anthony, who faced the Huskies as the starting QB for Abilene Christian the past two seasons in Southland Conference play, found Wayne Toussant on a pair of long TD passes in the opening quarter before hitting Isaiah Graham to two more in the second quarter as the Bulldogs built a 38-17 halftime lead.
“One of the things we have said is that one of the areas we have a chance to really improve as a football team, we’ve got some weapons out on the perimeter, and we have two quarterbacks who are throwing the deep ball really well,” said LA Tech head coach Skip Holtz. “They’ve done it all camp. They’ve got a feel for it, and that’s something where you’ve just got to let your mind be a computer and lay it up there. They execute the deep ball really well.
“Wayne Toussant came alive and made some big plays for us. Isaiah Graham had two great contested catches over the middle of the field. We have some weapons out there. It was nice seeing those guys play as well as they did. Luke can definitely play better, but I’m really proud. He’s only been in this offense five weeks, so he’s really playing well. Overall, I was pleased with the way we came in and competed.”
The Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 C-USA) amassed 542 yards of total offense as Anthony hit 17-of-30 passes for 314 yards and the five scores. He found Jawaun Johnson for a 41-yard strike in the third quarter and also scored on a one-yard plunge in the third stanza.
“Early on in the game, there was a lot of me wanting to move more than I should of, and I think that forced some plays to extend and resulted in me throwing it away or me putting guys in contested catch situations,” said Anthony. “Once we got rolling in our base offense and going quick game and being able to hit them over the top, at that point it’s trusting the call and trusting everything you’ve been taught. Our O-line did a great job protecting me and gave me plenty of time to take the shots we needed to down the field that ultimately played a big role in the game.”
Justin Henderson rushed 11 times for 77 yards and one score while Israel Tucker added 63 yards on nine carries to lead the Bulldogs ground game that totaled 182 yards in the game. Henderson scored on a three-yard run early in the second quarter to give Tech a 31-14 advantage.
Greg Garner added a two-yard run in the fourth quarter while Westin Elliott found Kyle Maxwell for a seven-yard score for the final TD of the game.
Freshman Jacob Barnes, who connected on all nine extra point attempts in the game, started the scoring for the Bulldogs with a 51-yard field goal just four minutes into the contest.
Smoke Harris led all Tech receivers with five catches for 30 yards while Adrian Hardy (4-69), Toussant (3-91-2 TDs), Graham (3-36-2 TDs), Maxwell (3-29-1 TD), Griffin Hebert (2-47) and Johnson (2-44-1 TD) were all involved heavily in the passing game.
Defensively, the Bulldogs got enough stops against a high-powered Huskies passing game that had scored 31 points against North Texas and 33 points against Texas Tech. HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe completed 37-of-58 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns in the contest but did throw his first interception in more than 140 pass attempts on the season.
“This is a quarterback that threw for 500 yards in the opening week and 600 yards in his previous game, so when you say you held him to 400 yards, you feel really good about it,” said Holtz. “It’s not often you have a quarterback throw for 400 yards against you and you feel like your defense played well. They created the first turnover of the year. It certainly wasn’t perfect. There are certainly things you have to do better, but we didn’t flinch. They went out and they played.”
Bee Jay Williamson intercepted Zappe in the second quarter, upping the LA Tech streak to 19 straight games with at least one forced turnover. It also marked the seventh straight game with at least one interception by the Bulldogs.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Williamson on Zappe. “I feel like we left a lot on the field, though. We had a lot of missed tackles. I feel like everyone in the DB room could play better altogether. Other than that, I’m happy with the victory we had.”
True freshman Tyler Grubbs followed up his impressive debut against Southern Miss with another strong outing, totaling 12 tackles and one tackle for loss. Trey Baldwin added nine tackles before leaving the game due to a targeting foul in the third quarter while Williamson chipped in with seven stops.
Milton Williams, Levi Bell and Tristan Allen all recorded sacks in the game.
Tech returns to action Friday when it travels to Provo to face BYU. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.
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