|Date of game: 11/29/2014
Recap: Louisiana Tech vs. Rice
Ruston, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Cody Sokol threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs chewed up the Rice Owls, 76-31, in a Conference USA battle at Joe Aillet Stadium.
Sokol converted 20-of-32 passes and was intercepted once before taking a seat on the sidelines for Louisiana Tech (8-4, 7-1 CUSA). The Bulldogs had three receivers go over 100 yards in the meeting (Paul Turner, Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson), while running back Kenneth Dixon led the ground attack with 137 yards and three TDs on 17 carries.
The scoring total for the Bulldogs was their highest since posting 77 points against in-state rival Louisiana in 1998.
With the win Louisiana Tech will now represent the West Division of CUSA in the conference title game against Marshall on Dec. 3.
As for the Owls (7-5, 5-3), losers of two of the last three to close out the regular season, Driphus Jackson stood in at quarterback and connected on 25- of-40 for 337 yards and four scores, but he was sacked three times and tossed three interceptions in the lopsided defeat. Jordan Taylor caught 10 passes for a game-high 136 yards and a touchdown.
The Owls scored the first points of the afternoon when James Hairston capped off a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a 35-yard field goal.
Louisiana Tech then surged ahead with three straight touchdowns, the first coming on a one-yard run by Dixon, the next a 72-yard pass from Sokol to Henderson, followed by a 35-yard toss from the quarterback to Turner in the final seconds of the first period to give the hosts a 21-3 edge.
Rice chipped away at the deficit in the second stanza with Jackson throwing touchdown passes of seven and 51 yards to Mario Hull and Zach Wright, respectively, but still the visitors trailed by a 21-17 score.
With 5:29 remaining in the first half, Louisiana Tech struck again as Dixon crossed the goal line on a 10-yard run, pushing the lead back to double digits at the break.
With a short field right out of the gate in the third quarter, the Owls turned to Jackson and Hull who this time hooked up for a 35-yard TD pass play to draw Rice to within four yet again, 28-24.
Unfortunately for the Owls, the rest of the third belonged to the Bulldogs as the hosts rattled off four straight touchdowns in a span of just over 10 minutes. The run began with a 31-yard TD on the ground by Dixon, followed by a 58-yard TD burst by Jarred Craft. Henderson was then credited with a touchdown on a fumble recovery, followed by a 35-yard pass play between Sokol and Taylor, making the score 56-24 with just under two minutes to play before the start of the fourth.
Sokol and the Bulldogs continued to attack as the signal caller hooked up with Taylor on a 24-yard scoring pass play to raise the lead to 39 with just under 12 minutes left on the clock.
On the next Rice possession, the Louisiana Tech defense got in on the act, stripping the ball from the Owls and Beau Fitte returning it for a 19-yard touchdown. A failed PAT left the hosts with a 69-24 advantage.
Refusing to go away quietly, the Owls mounted an eight-yard drive that covered 75 yards and culminated with a 27-yard TD pass from Jackson to Taylor.
Minutes later the Bulldogs again had possession and appeared to be taking it easy on Rice, but running plays still advanced the ball to the point where backup quarterback Taylor Burch was able to scoot into the end zone on a seven-yard run around the left side. A successful PAT this time made the score a staggering 76-31.
Rice ran 72 plays and came away with 371 yards of offense, but with one fewer snap the Bulldogs were able to generate 677 yards on the day.
The scoring onslaught for the Bulldogs was the third-highest total in the FBS this season behind the 77 scored by North Texas against Nicholls State and the 82 that TCU dropped on Texas Tech.Game Notes