Sports

Bears lose heartbreaker to Bulldogs in overtime 48-42

The Bears football team almost pulled off a miraculous comeback victory against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, but lost in overtime 48-42 in Ruston, La. on Sept. 10.
After going into overtime tied 42-42, the Bears lost the toss and were forced to go on the offensive first. Senior quarterback Nathan Dick and the Bears offense were stopped by the Bulldogs defense and attempted a 39 yard field goal that was blocked by Bulldogs senior linebacker Adrien Cole. The Bulldogs took their turn and marched into the end zone in three plays to win the game. Bulldogs’ redshirt senior Lennon Creer rushed all three of those plays and was the game’s leading rusher with 32 carries for 177 yards and three touchdowns.
Leading up to the Bears defeat, the game was a back-and-forth tug-of-war that the Bulldogs dominated for the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the Bears came back from the brink and started what seemed to be a comeback victory.
Coach Clint Conque said the game against the Bulldogs reminded him a lot of the Bears’ game against the Hawaii Warriors in 2009.
“There was a lot of carnage out there,” he said. “It was a very violent, very physical game of football. It reminded me a great deal of our game against Hawaii. Very similar because we came back-and-forth and in those cases someone has to step up and make the positive play.”
The Bulldogs started with the ball in the fourth quarter on third down with seven to go. 17 year old Tech freshman quarterback Nick Isham threw an incomplete pass and the Bulldogs were forced to punt. The Bears took over and with consecutive passes to junior wide receiver Jesse Grandy, 24 yards and 56 yards, earned the Bears a touchdown less than a minute into the fourth. The Bears went for the two-point conversion after a timeout, and once again, Dick looked to Grandy who came down with the pass for a successful conversion to tie the game at 35-35.
Grandy and Dick were the main duo for the Bears offense on Friday. Dick was 29 for 52 in pass completion for 372 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Grandy had seven of those passes thrown his way for 148 yards with two touchdowns. This week, Grandy was named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week and Dick was named Player of the Week by the website College Sports Madness, Conque said.
Conque said he has been pleased with Grandy so far but knows there is always room for improvement and that Grandy knows that as well.
Jesse is giving us that big play ability that we have not seen at UCA in a few years,” he said.
Junior wide reciever Dominique Croom said he thought the offense’s passing went well against the Bulldogs.
“It went tremendously well,” he said. “We were getting man coverage across the board and we were able to make the good plays that we did.”
Two more unsuccessful drives preceded a Bears defensive play that would take them above the Bulldogs and gave them the chance for victory. The Bulldogs started an offensive drive with 3:48 left in the game on the Bears’ 38-yard line. On the fifth play of Tech’s drive on the UCA 26-yard line, Creer fumbled the ball and senior defensive back Jerrel McKnight scooped the dropped ball and ran 73 yards for a Bears touchdown. The extra point from freshman Eddie Camara put the Bears in the lead 42-35. The Bears lead would not stand, however, as the Bulldogs marched back down the field on their next drive to tie the game at 42-42 sending the game into the overtime that led to the Bears defeat.
Conque said he has been pleased with Camara so far, but emphasized he has to stay healthy and has to be protected on the field.
“I thought he had two kicks early on in the game that were very important for us,” he said. “We have to ensure he is staying healthy and being protected on the field because he is not the biggest guy. I think if we keep [junior kicker]Kevin [Buford] healthy also and start getting more consistent on our punting we will be fine.”
Conque said a main reason for the Bears downfall was a lack of fundamental awareness during the game.
“We had two special teams breakdowns on a punt-coverage unit and a kick-coverage unit that gave [the Bulldogs]a short field that gave them a couple of scores,” he said. “I felt like we needed to block and tackle better as well.”
The Bulldogs rushing offense pushed through the Bears defense for a total of 221 rushing yards compared to the Bears running game that had 73 yards of rushing. Conque said he realizes the young men on his team will make mistakes, but in games such as this one, big plays and mistakes can mean everything.
“In a game like this, everything you do whether it is a mistake or a big play is magnified,” he said.
Conque said he felt there were times on the field where his team should have scored and that it could have made the difference in the game.
“We probably left three scores out there on Saturday,” he said.
Croom also said there were instances on the field that could have been game changers for the team.
“We had the opportunity in several different instances to score that could have given us the win,” he said.
The Bulldogs had control of the game for the first three quarters, outscoring the Bears with the exception of the second quarter where both teams scored a lone touchdown. The Bears outscored the Bulldogs in the fourth 15-7.
The Bears’ next game is against the Sam Houston State Bearkats in Hunstville, Texas at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17. The week after, the Bears will be on the road again heading to Jonesboro to revive an old in-state rivalry against the Arkansas State University Red Wolves.

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