LA Tech, USU and SJSU Win Big
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech freshman Kenneth Dixon continued his assault on the record books, rushing for 232 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 70-28 win over Idaho before 20,255 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.
Dixon scored on runs of 1, 2, 1, 7, 2 and 20 yards to break Arry Moody's 36-year old single game record of five rushing touchdowns in a game set against Northeast Louisiana in 1976. The Strong, Arkansas native now has 16 rushing touchdowns on the season - 15 of them coming at home - as he broke Charles McDaniel's freshman single season mark of 14 set in 1971.
"I thought it was a good win," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "It was good to see the way the team came out and played after a tough loss last week. We wanted to come out and get off to a good start after not doing that last week against Texas A&M."
LA Tech (6-1, 1-0 WAC) recorded 839 total yards of offense, a program single game record and the most by an FBS team this season as the Bulldogs rushed for 408 yards and passed for another 431 yards in the win.
The 70 points were the most by a LA Tech team since the Tim Rattay-led Bulldogs scored 77 in a win over UL-Lafayette in 1998. Tech, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring offense, also tied a WAC single game record with 56 first half points as the Bulldogs led 56-21 at the break.
It didn't take long for the onslaught to begin as Idaho (1-6, 1-2) fumbled the opening kickoff as Tech recovered on the Vandals one-yard line. Dixon scored the first of his half dozen TDs on a one-yard plunge as Tech led 7-0 only 12 seconds into the game.
After Dixon's second score of the night gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest, Idaho struck with a 58-yard double pass that saw Roman Runner hit a wide open Najee Lovett down the right sideline to cut the deficit to 14-7.
"We got hit by a bad play early with that double pass they scored on," Dykes said. "But our guys kept their foot on the accelerator. That's the sign of a good team when you can pull away early."
A Ray Holley five-yard touchdown run with 10:03 to play in the opening quarter gave Tech a 21-7 advantage but the Vandals answered immediately as Todd Handley took the kickoff and raced 92-yards to paydirt as the deficit was once again only one touchdown.
Dixon's third score of the night - a one-yard run - and a Colby Cameron to Quinton Patton 20-yard pitch and catch completed the first quarter scoring as the Dawgs led 35-14.
"Kenneth (Dixon) runs hard," said Dykes. "The good thing is he'll get even better when he learns to run lower and quits taking so many shots. He'll get better and better as he learns that."
Tech struck again early in the second quarter as Myles White caught a short pass, made a couple of Vandal defenders miss and raced 36 yards to the endzone. Three minutes later Dixon scored for the fourth time in the game on a 7-yard run as the lead ballooned to 49-14 with 9:50 to play before the half.
Each team scored one more time in the second quarter as James Baker scored on a one-yard run for the Vandals following an 86-yard fumble return that gave Idaho the ball on the Bulldogs one-yard line. Dixon then scored his fifth TD on a two-yard run with 3:17 to play in the stanza as Tech led 56-21 at the break.
Dixon broke Moody's record midway through the third quarter on a highlight reel 20-yard run through the middle of the Vandals defense. It would be the freshman's last carry of the night as he finished with a career-high 232 yards on only 17 carries and the six scores.
"He's a great running back," Cameron said. "He's big and fast and quicker than people expect. With him doing so well, it helps the quarterback and is a credit to our offense."
It was also the last play for the Bulldog offensive starters as the Tech reserves played the final quarter and a half of the game. Zach Griffith led Tech's final scoring drive, a seven-play, 44-yard march that ended with a three-yard run by the backup signal caller - his first career score.
Idaho scored the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter on a one-yard pass from Dominique Blackman to Michael LaGrone with 8:31 to play.
In addition to Dixon's big night, walk-on running back Brandon Davis added 85 yards on 14 carries while Holley finished with 47 yards on 11 carries and one score.
Cameron was impressive once again, completing 29-of-37 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Cameron has now thrown 20 touchdowns this season and has yet to throw an interception in 275 pass attempts.
As a team, Tech registered 39 first downs while averaging 8.8 yards per play in 95 snaps under center.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were stellar, holding Idaho to only 304 yards and 11 first downs in the game. The Vandals scored three touchdowns, but one was via special teams, one came after taking over on the Tech one-yard line following a fumble and one was on a trick play. The Bulldogs defense also forced four more turnovers.
"Idaho was 0-11 on third down," Dykes said. "That's as good as I've seen getting off the field. (Tech defensive coordinator) Tommy Spangler had a good game plan and (the defense) did a good job making plays on the ball."
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday when they travel to Las Cruces to face New Mexico State at 7 p.m. CT.
Utah State 41, New Mexico State 7
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State football became bowl eligible for the second-straight year with a 41-7 rout over New Mexico State at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
USU becomes bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1960 and 1961 seasons, after Saturday's win put Utah State at 6-2 overall and 2-0 in Western Athletic Conference action. Utah State has now won six of its first eight games of the season for the first time since 1978 when the navy Aggies went 7-2 that year. USU has also now won seven-straight WAC games, its longest conference winning streak since the 1979 and 1980 teams won seven Big West games in a row.
NMSU suffered its sixth-straight loss after opening the season with a win, falling to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in WAC play.
Utah State now leads the all-time series, 29-7, winning the three meetings and six of the last eight match-ups in the sixth-longest series in school history. Saturday's win also improved USU to 14-3 at Logan.
Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton was 16-of-26 passing for 257 yards and two TD's, the first to senior running back Kerwynn Williams on USU's first play from scrimmage. Williams snared the short pass and scampered through huge holes created by great blocks and darted to the endzone for his career-long reception. Williams ended the day with three catches for 94 yards, while adding 13 carries for 82 yards with a TD.
With his two TD's on the day, Keeton now has 27 career scoring passes, moving to No. 10 on the USU career TD pass list.
Keeton also rushed seven times for 81 yards with two TD's, darting 76 yards on the navy Aggies' first possession of the second quarter to give USU its 21-0 lead, its second one-play scoring drive of the afternoon and a new career-long rush. Keeton added a 9-yard scamper in the third quarter, breaking two tackles and dragging NMSU defenders with him into the endzone.
Senior wide receiver Chuck Jacobs had four catches for 94 yards, with 49 yards coming on a scoring strike from Keeton for the home Aggies' second TD of the first quarter.
Freshman running back Kelvin Lee and junior quarterback Devonta Glover-Wright had career rushing days. Lee had five carries for 46 yards while Glover-Wright rushed five times for 39 yards, as USU amassed 256 rushing yards with three TD's.
Utah State also totalled 260 yards through the air, as sophomore quarterback Craig Harrison completed his lone pass of the afternoon for three yards.
Junior linebacker Jake Doughty led the USU defense with 10 tackles, while senior cornerback Will Davis tallied eight stops, including two tackles for loss and also snared his first career interception. Davis' pick came in the second quarter when NMSU was driving, snaring the pass in the endzone across the middle and returning it 35 yards. Freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell also had eight tackles and also blocked a New Mexico State field goal attempt, USU's fourth blocked kick this season.
Utah State connected on two field goals, as sophomore placekicker Nick Diaz boomed a career-long 53-yarder early in the third quarter and added a 48-yarder at the start of the fourth stanza. The 53-yard field goal was USU's longest since a 56-yarder by Chris Ulinski in 2008, which also came at home against New Mexico State. Diaz's field goal is tied for the eighth-longest in school history.
Senior wide receiver Cameron Webb added to the special teams' success with a career-long 44-yard return in the third quarter, setting USU up with the ball in NMSU territory, that Diaz capped with his record book marking field goal. The 44-yarder was the longest for USU since 2007 by Kevin Robinson tallied a 70-yard TD punt return.
NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley was 19-of-37 for 177 yards with one TD and one interception. Manley was also sacked three times by the USU defense. Manley connected with Austin Franklin for a 6-yard TD toss at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter for the visitor's only score of the afternoon. Franklin finished with eight catches for 84 yards.
Germi Morrison led the NMSU rushing attack with 19 carries for 96 yards.
Davis Cazares posted a game-high 12 tackles and blocked a Diaz field goal attempt in the fourth quarter to pace the visitor's defense. George Callender added nine tackles.
Williams and Jacobs' long catch and run scoring plays gave USU the early 14-0 lead as the navy Aggies have now out-scored their opposition, 82-3, in the first quarter.
USU took a 28-0 lead into halftime, as Williams added a 3-yard run with 39 seconds before intermission to improve the northern Aggies to a 144-42 first-half scoring advantage this season. Diaz's 53-yarder put USU ahead 31-0 before NMSU got on the board with the scoring pass. Keeton's 9-yard run came with 1:01 to go in the third quarter and Diaz capped the scoring with his 48-yard upright split with 12:13 left in the game.
Utah State heads to San Antonio, Texas for the inaugural meeting with WAC newcomer UTSA on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Noon (MT). The Aggies then return home to host another new league team in Texas State, also meeting for the first time, on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. (MT).
San Jose State 52, UTSA 24
San Antonio, Texas-----In the Alamodome, it was San Jose State University's turn to put on a first-half scoring barrage in a 52 - 24 win over UTSA in a Western Athletic Conference game.
After opening conference action a week earlier giving up 28 points in the first two quarters in a 49-27 loss to Utah State, the Spartans (5-2, 1-1 WAC) scored 38 points on the first five times they touched the ball. Needing just nine offensive plays, San Jose State put the ball in the end zone four different ways including two on determined special teams play.
Quarterback David Fales threw three touchdown passes for the second week in a row including a pair of 36-yard touchdown passes in a 28-point first quarter. Wide receiver Noel Grigsby hauled in the first one for the game's opening score and halfback Tyler Ervin's catch made it 21-0.
Ervin was all over the field for the Spartans accounting for 214 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
Both teams found it difficult to hold on to the ball. San Jose State fumbled three times. UTSA (5-2, 1-1 WAC) doubled the number of giveaways, five of them on fumbles, had six turnovers total and several center snaps that either were ground balls or over its intended target.
The most telling came in the first quarter when Roadrunner punter Josh Ward chased down a bad snap in the UTSA end zone, but was beaten to it by San Jose State special teams defender Chris Kearney giving the Spartans a 28-0 lead.
After Austin Lopez booted a 25-yard field goal at the start of the second-quarter for 31-0 lead, UTSA (5-2, 1-1 WAC) got on the scoreboard with a 69-yard screen pass play from back-up quarterback Ryan Polite to halfback Evans Okcotcha.
Ervin retaliated immediately for San Jose State with a 92-yard kickoff return giving the Spartans a 38-7 advantage. The Spartan sophomore appeared to be stopped in a scrum, but broke through the mass of players and raced down the right side for his second kickoff return for a score this season and third in his career.
Fales was 17-of-26 for 279 yards, but was 11-of-16 during the fast San Jose State start. He and tight end Ryan Otten hooked up on a 6-yard pass with 50 seconds left in the third quarter to close out the Spartans' scoring. Just over three minutes earlier De'Leon Eskridge added a 1-yard touchdown for San Jose State's other second-half touchdown.
The San Jose State defense did its share helping build the insurmountable lead. UTSA gained just two yards and had two first downs on 19 plays in the first quarter. The Roadrunners did not have starting quarter Eric Soza available due to an injury the previous week against Rice. Ryan Polite took over for Soza and finished with 302 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Polite and the rest of the UTSA offense had to deal with an inspired Spartan defense that played without starting cornerback Damon Ogburn Jr., who was injured in the Utah State game and did not make the trip.
His roommate, Bene Benwikere, made his second start of the season, and shared team-high tackle honors with linebacker Keith Smith. Besides 11 tackles, Benwikere intercepted a pass, was credited wit two tackles for loss, forced a fumble that led to Eskridge's touchdown run and recovered a fumble that initiated the final San Jose State touchdown drive.
The Spartans head home and continue conference action October 27 hosting Texas State in a 1:00 p.m. game in Spartan Stadium.