FRISCO, Texas — Louisiana Tech entered its matchup against SMU in the DXL Frisco Bowl as a touchdown underdog as the Mustangs boasted one of the top offenses in the country.
The Mustangs met their match Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium. Namely, the Bulldogs defense.
Louisiana Tech’s defense forced six turnovers, scored two touchdowns on interception returns and sacked SMU quarterback Ben Hicks four times to lead the Bulldogs to a lopsided 51-10 victory before 14,419 fans.
It marked the fourth straight bowl win for Louisiana Tech and left a savory taste in the mouths of Bulldog fans following a regular season that saw its share of sourness. The Bulldog senior class also recorded its 34th win in four years, the most by any LA Tech senior class since the program joined the FBS ranks in 1988.
Sophomore quarterback J’Mar Smith was named the offensive player of the game after throwing for 216 yards and three touchdowns. Smith completed 15-of-23 passes and also added a 1-yard rushing TD that gave Tech an early 7-0 lead.
Freshman defensive back Amik Robertsonearned the Defensive Player of the Game Award. Robertson totaled four tackles, one tackle for loss and returned a first quarter interception 45-yards for a score, upping the Tech lead to 14-0.
Robertson and his fellow Bulldog defensive backs held a heralded trio of SMU receivers in check all night long. Trey Quinn, Courtland Sutton and James Proche entered the night with a combined 208 catches for just over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
However, the trio did little damage during the game. Quinn finished with eight catches for 45 yards and one score, Sutton added six catches for 68 yards and Proche was held without a reception.
Hicks also had a rough night behind center as he was constantly scrambling for his life. Tech blitzed time after time during the game, forcing Hicks to make quick throws resulting in three interceptions or getting the SMU signal caller to the ground. Hicks completed 19-of-34 passes for a season-low 127 yards and three interceptions. The previous low in passing yards for SMU this season was 218 in a loss to Memphis.
The first play of the game was a microcosm of the entire night. After receiving the opening kickoff, SMU running back Xavier Jones fumbled on the first play of the game and Bulldog defensive end Jaylon Ferguson recovered. Tech would stall out on offense and Barnes’ 37-yard field goal attempt missed wide left as SMU dodged the first bullet.
It wouldn’t matter.
SMU picked up a couple of first downs on the next possession before Scedrick Cooper interception Hicks and returned it 31 yards to the Mustangs 30 yard line. Nine plays later, Smith got into the endzone on a fourth down and 1 quarterback sneak and Barnes’ extra point made it 7-0.
Robertson’s pick six on SMU’s next possession made it 14-0 Tech.
The 51 points were the most a LA Tech team has ever scored in a bowl game. Tech held SMU to 10 points, the fewest the Mustangs scored this season (the previous low was 22 against Houston).