What are the Top 5 Louisiana Tech football games ever? ---William L.
Great question, in fact it is such a great question that it we’re making this the focus of our SPECIAL EDITION Mailbag today.
Tech has certainly had its share of spectacular games over the course of its storied history, and here is a look back at my Top 5:
1. Tech defeats Alabama 1999:
September 18, 1999, Tech was a heavy underdog, but the ‘Dogs pulled off a monumental upset against a Crimson Tide team that went on to win the SEC. Lead by future NFL first round picks Sean Alexander and Chris Samuels, Alabama thought that this particular Saturday would be an easy victory. That’s where they were wrong. Trailing 28-22 and facing a 4th and 26, the odds of winning were clearly stacked against the Bulldogs. To make matters worse, now-legendary Tech quarterback Tim Rattay had exited the game due to injury just two plays before. On 4th and 26, backup Brian Stallworth rolled out to his right and connected with Sean Cangelosi for a touchdown that would be stun the college football world, give Tech the victory, and cement itself as one of the greatest plays in Louisiana Tech history. Though Sean Alexander ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns, the Tide were done in by four turnovers and ten penalties. The win over Alabama would give Tech a 3-2 all-time series lead over the Tide that still stands to this day (Nick Saban probably won’t be signing up for another loss anytime soon). The Bulldogs would go on to finish 8-3 on the year and make their first appearance in the Associated Press Top 25.
2. Tech defeats Michigan State 2003:
When Luke McCown connected on his 73rd career touchdown from 11 yards out to D.J. Curry with just two seconds remaining to knock off the Spartans 20-19, I remember time feeling like it stood still. It still gives me chills talking about it to this day. On an afternoon for the books in East Lansing, McCown threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns to lead Tech back from a 19-7 fourth quarter deficit. With 1:06 left to play, McCown connected with Julius Cosby on a 4-yard touchdown to get the Bulldogs within five. Dez Abrams then recovered Josh Scobee’s onside kick, leading to Curry’s game winning touchdown. After allowing 370 yards in the first quarter, the Bulldog defense stifled the Spartans to the tune of just 127 yards in the final three quarters of play. What did the Spartans in? Kicker Dave Rayner missed three field goals on the afternoon. “We totally gave it away,” guard Paul Harker said. “We didn’t just shoot ourselves in the foot. We took a bazooka and blew the whole thing off.” Yes, Mr. Harker, you did. Thank you very much.
3. Tech defeats Fresno State 2004:
The best Louisiana Tech home game I have ever seen feels like it happened yesterday. Fresno State walked out on to the natural grass at Joe Aillet Stadium with big heads — and rightfully so after early season victories over Kansas State and Washington landed them as the number 17 ranked team in the country. But they would not leave unscathed. Ryan Moats turned in one of the best single-game performances in Bulldog history — try 36 carries for 236 yards and a touchdown. Moats knew that the load was his to carry — all quarterback Matt Kubik had to do was turn around and give him the football. “I knew I had to carry the load,” said Moats. “I knew I couldn’t get tired, and I just wanted the team to keep giving me the ball.” After Moats carried the team, Tech fans took it upon themselves to put an equally heavy load on their backs — the Joe Aillet Stadium goal posts. What a glorious night it was.
4. Tech falls in heartbreaker to Texas A&M in 2012:
A loss in the Top 5? If you were there, you know you’d be mad if this one didn’t make the list. To put it plainly, this was one of the greatest college football games of all time. On a night that treated fans to over 180 plays and 1,300 yards of offense between the two teams, the Bulldogs fell in unbelievable fashion (if that wasn’t possible before, it is now). In a game that was supposed to open the season but was rescheduled due to weather, freshman phenom Johnny Manziel piled up over 500 yards and six touchdowns on his way to a Heisman trophy. However, that wasn’t the story. Tech trailed 34-7 in the 2nd quarter before making a furious comeback in the second half. The comeback was headlined by Quinton Patton’s 21 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns. To this day, I still believe that Aggie defensive back Dustin Harris has nightmares when thinking about this game. The way that this game unfolded at the end really was a thing of legend. After Patton tip-toed his way down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown and defensive end Shakeil Lucas snagged a Manziel pass for a pick-six that sent shockwaves through all of Shreveport, it felt too good to be true. But THEN, the Dogs recovered a Matt Nelson onside kick to set up a potential game tying drive, and quarterback Colby Cameron quickly fired an amazing 13 yard touchdown pass to running back Ray Holley to get the Dogs within two. Unfortunately, the two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete and the Dogs comeback fell just short. While a majority of the 40,000+ in attendance left early, the few that did stay got to see one of the greatest games in the history of college football.
5. Tech defeats Oklahoma State in 2002:
Another matchup in Independence Stadium, this time between the Dogs and the Cowboys. The Cowboys were coached by the Mad Hatter Les Miles (before he decided to destroy every offense he ever came in contact with). Behind Josh Fields at quarterback and D’Juan Woods at receiver, the Cowboys were in complete control throughout the game. That is before Luke McCown decided to put it in gear. Trailing 36-18, McCown led Tech to three late touchdown drives, including one to Eric Franklin with just one minute left to give Tech the win. McCown tossed the ball 66 times on the day and tallied three touchdowns. When looking at the deficit that the ‘Dogs faced in this one, the comeback is that much more impressive.
We’re looking for more legendary performances this season as the Dogs play host to Mississippi State and travel to South Carolina. While not everything has gone Tech’s way over the past decade and a half, we’ve learned that this program has a knack for big time performances in big time games — and aren’t to be taken lightly.