Bulldogs look for big W in Big D, visiting SMU

TECH TRIGGERMAN:  Boise State transfer quarterback Hank Bachmeier steered a late 69-yard drive to the winning touchdown in his Louisiana Tech debut last Saturday night. (Photo by JOSH MCDANIEL, Louisiana Tech)


DALLAS – After a late rally on a late night in Aillet Stadium last Saturday, the Louisiana Tech football team will get an early start this morning in its first road game of the season.

The Bulldogs and SMU’s Mustangs kick off at 11:07 a.m. from Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Highland Park, with ESPNU carrying the contest. It’s the opener for the hosts while Louisiana Tech is riding high after last Saturday night’s heroics.

The Bulldogs are coming off a thrilling 22-17 come-from-behind win over visiting Florida International in the season opener. Tech trailed by as much as 14 points on two different occasions in the first half, but the Bulldogs were resilient, scoring 19 unanswered points to earn the victory.

It was the first time in 20 games Tech trailed at halftime and won.

The Bulldog defense was brilliant in the victory, holding FIU to 182 yards of total offense and four passing yards. The Panthers’ total yardage was the fewest by a Tech opponent since Oct. 17, 2009, when New Mexico State accumulated 142, and the four passing yards were the least since Sept. 5, 1981, when Tech did not allow a passing yard in a game against West Texas A&M.

Stephen F. Austin transfers Myles Heard and Brevin Randle led the Bulldog defense with nine tackles apiece. Defensive back Cecil Singleton Jr. recorded the Bulldogs’ first interception of the season when he picked off FIU quarterback Grayson James with just 49 seconds to go in the contest to seal the victory.

Receiver Smoke Harris was named Conference USA Player of the Week after his performance in the victory over FIU. Harris caught a career-high 11 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown, highlighted by a 64-yard touchdown reception during the closing minutes of the second quarter.

He has tallied a reception in each of the past 33 games, which is the seventh-longest active streak among all FBS players. The redshirt senior has registered a touchdown reception in each of the last six seasons.

Quarterback Hank Bachmeier was impressive in his Bulldog debut, completing 34 of his 44 passing attempts for 333 yards and a touchdown while directing a seven-play, 69-yard game-winning touchdown drive that took just 87 seconds in the closing minutes.

Tech relied on a committee of running backs to get the job done on the ground in the opener and expects to do the same against the Mustangs.

The Bulldogs’ offensive line has a combined 234 career games played, which leads Conference USA and ranks sixth nationally among all FBS programs. Tech returns a combined 34 starts from a year ago.

SMU is coming off a 7-6 campaign that featured a 5-3 mark at home during head coach Rhett Lashlee’s inaugural season in 2022.

Running back Tyler Lavine is back after rushing for a team-high 642 yards and 10 touchdowns. Like the Bulldogs, SMU has a very experienced offensive line with 254 combined career games played, which is the third-most nationally.

Jordan Kerley is the Mustangs’ top returning receiver. The senior wide receiver hauled in 37 passes for 588 yards and six touchdowns a season ago.

SMU overhauled its defense this offseason. Six of the Mustangs’ transfer additions currently top their depth chart. Transfers Kobe Wilson (MLB, Temple), Ahmad Walker (LB, Liberty) and Charles Woods (DB, West Virginia) are all expected to be impact starters.

Tech is home again next weekend against old rival Northwestern State.