SHREVEPORT, La. – Louisiana Tech picked up its 10th win over the year with a 14-0 victory over Miami before 33,129 fans in the Walk-Ons Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium Thursday evening.
Tech (10-3) recorded its first shutout since defeating New Mexico State 44-0 in 2011 and the first ever shutout in Independence Bowl history. It was also the first shutout by a non-Power 5 program over a Power 5 program in a bowl game in the BCS/CFP era (since 1998).
The 10-win season is Tech’s first since it moved to the FBS ranks in 1989 and the first since 1984, when the Bulldogs advanced to the FCS national title game.
While the Tech offense sputtered at times against the Hurricanes talented defense, the Bulldogs defense saved its best performance of the year for Miami.
Tech, which won its sixth straight bowl game in the last six years, held the Hurricanes scoreless for 60 minutes, forcing nine punts and three turnovers in the game. Miami (6-7) never moved the ball inside the Tech 35-yard line in the game and totaled just 227 yards in the game.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Tech finally found the endzone early in the second quarter. On a first down and 10 play from the Hurricanes 26-yard line, J’Mar Smith avoided a sack and then lofted a pass to a wide open Israel Tucker who raced untouched down the Miami sideline for the score.
The play capped a 13-play, 91-yard drive that saw the Bulldogs convert three third down conversions. It was the most impressive drive of the night for either team.
The score remained 7-0 into the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs took over inside Miami territory after Darryl Lewis recovered a fumble on the Tech 40-yard line and returned it to the UM 30 on the final play of the third quarter.
Following a first down, Tech had a third down and nine from the Miami 18-yard line … with a chance to put points on the board and make it a two score game. However, a Smith screen pass was intercepted by Gilbert Frierson and returned to midfield.
Once again, the Tech defense came through. After allowing a first down to the Bulldogs 35, Tech forced the Hurricanes into a punt.
Miami had one final opportunity two possessions later. The Hurricanes drove to midfield before Aaron Roberson stepped in front of an N’Kosi Perry pass and returned the interception to the Bulldogs 44. With 3:22 to play and Tech leading 7-0, the Bulldogs offense put the game away, driving 56 yards on five plays and scoring on an 8-yard TD run by Smith with 1:15 to go in the game.
Justin Henderson was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player after rushing for 95 yards on 22 carries. He became the 13th player in Tech history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, finishing with 1,062 and 15 touchdowns.
Connor Taylor earned the games Most Outstanding Defensive Player, recording nine tackles and 1.5 sacks. Ezekiel Barnett also registered nine tackles and one sack while Trey Baldwin joined Roberson in the interception category, picking off a pass in the third quarter.
Tech is now 8-3-1 all-time in bowl games and 3-1-1 in Independence Bowl contests.