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Louisiana Tech Take Top Spot, Beat North Texas 29-27

DENTON — The game of the week ended a wild Saturday of CUSA football, but the electric atmosphere of Apogee Stadium for the big game between two of the divisions best teams had the Tech athletic director impressed:

This was a big important game and the stage was appropriately set.

A question entering the game was about the quality of play of North Texas’ foes. The same question was asked — albeit not as loudly — of Louisiana Tech: Which Bulldog team would show up in Denton? The one that struggled against USA and in parts of the LSU game? Or the one that won on the road in week one, and put up big yards in Baton Rouge?

The answer? Well, both. Tech put on a display of their talent — look at this Rhashid Bonnette catch:

DE Jaylon Ferguson brought down Mason Fine four times, and the Tech defense battled back from 21-6 to win 29-27. That meant that Tech held North Texas’ potent offense to only six more points for three quarters. The Bulldogs were the first team in 17 quarters to shut out the NT offense, and gave goose-eggs twice: in the second and fourth quarters. Talk about closing a half.

The win was also something like an exorcism of the late-game demons that plagued Skip Holtz’ 2017 squad. Mason Fine and North Texas memorably benefitted from a missed FG by the Bulldogs in Ruston last year. It was somewhat fitting to have five FGs connect and then to get the benefit of a miss, and a block in this one.

J’Mar Smith was stoic and while he did miss targets, he ultimately found his guys at the most necessary times. His poise helped lead the comeback and dominate the 2nd quarter — 11:41 TOP for the visitors that quarter.

The best defense is sometimes an offense that takes 18-play drives. Tech scored and that made all the difference. The field goals they traded for North Texas touchdowns seemed like a bad sign, but those kicks added up to fifteen points and when fortuned turned — a muffed punt gave the offense the ball at the five — J’Mar Smith and company pounced.

The five-yard drive ended in a touchdown and Tech would never relinquish that lead.

The game was not pretty, and there are things that Tech will look back on and see room for improvement. However, when you go to the hottest team in the league’s home park and pull out a win, you will be satisfied.

Tech just toppled the ‘best’ team in the league. They have full control of their destiny on the way to the CUSA Title game in December. While the CUSA scoreboard tells us we should expect the unexpected, right now things are looking red and blue.

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