Special Teams Leads Tech to Win

RUSTON - Two big special teams plays helped Louisiana Tech overcome a valiant effort by Southeastern Louisiana as the Bulldogs downed the Lions 41-26 before 17,623 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday night.

"I would like to congratulate Coach (Mike) Lucas," said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. "They have a very good football team. They play with effort and the play with toughness. They have a good offensive scheme that's hard to defend. That's not an easy win."

Phillip Livas' 57-yard punt return early in the second quarter and Weldon Brown's 50-yard return of a blocked field goal late in the second quarter propelled Tech to a 28-23 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs defense stiffened in the second half, limiting SLU to only three points as Tech improved to 2-1 heading into its Oct. 1 Western Athletic Conference opener at Boise State.

"I was proud how the special teams stepped up," said Dooley. "They kept up the energy. They've played a big role in both of our home wins this year. But I was most proud of how we came out in the second half."

With Tech leading 14-10 on the heels of two first-quarter scores, a Patrick Jackson two-yard touchdown run and a Daniel Porter 44-yard touchdown reception from Taylor Bennett, Livas took a low punt on the run and sprinted untouched to the endzone.

It was Livas' first career punt return for a score, although the sophomore playmaker - affectionately known as Saturday Night Livas - has already scored on a kickoff return and pass receptions in his brief Bulldog career.

"Phillip always seems to make things happen," Dooley said.

The speedy playmaker said that the Bulldogs had prepared for the return all week.

"We noticed they like to punt the ball low and so we were prepared," Livas said. "We had both me and Phillip (Beck) back waiting and I just grabbed it and went."

Southeastern (2-2) fought back and cut the Tech advantage to 21-20 with a 55-yard double pass from Chris Wilson to Andre Cryer and a 27-yard field goal by Jeff Turner, one of his four on the night.

"Everybody in the stadium knew (the double pass) was coming but our guys," Dooley said. "It's what happens on those plays. (Cryer) had to make a great catch though."

The Lions drove inside Tech territory right before the half but Turner's 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Kiamni Washington and returned by Brown, giving Tech some breathing room at the half.

Washington also forced a fumble early in the third quarter with the Bulldogs leading 31-23 and it was recovered by Roosevelt Falls.

"It really boosted my confidence," Washington said. "I know with my heart that if I focus I can make plays happen."

Following the fumble recovery, Daniel Porter made a run for the highlight reel, shaking six would-be tacklers en route to a 23-yard touchdown run and a 38-23 Bulldog lead. Porter led Tech with 97 yards rushing on 19 carries and also had 53 yards receiving on two receptions.

"I didn't have the best view," Dooley said. "However, (offensive coordinator) Frank (Scelfo) told me in the headset it was the best run he'd ever seen. He had a bird's eye view of it."

The two teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter as Brad Oestriecher connected on a 47-yarder, one of two on the night for the senior from Baton Rouge.

Bennett completed 15-of-27 passes for 196 yards and one score with one interception. The interception was returned 51 yards by SLU's Marquis Powell for a score in the first quarter.

Senior Quin Harris led Tech with 12 tackles and one fumble recovery, while Antonio Baker recorded his third straight double digit tackle performance with 11 along with one forced fumble.

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