"I'm so tired of coming and playing people tough and coming away with a loss," Bulldog Coach Jack Bicknell said in the losing dressing room on Saturday. "But, on the positive side of things, I'm very, very proud of this team. We could have packed it in, but we kept fighting. That shows a lot of character on the part of those players and the assistant coaches."
Louisiana Tech trailed the Tigers 31-13 at halftime, but stormed back in the second half to tie the game at 41 at the end of regulation. Sophomore quarterback Luke McCown connected with receiver Delwyn Daigre on 23-yard game-tying touchdown pass with just 58 seconds remaining.
"If we would have played the first half like we did the second half, I don't think it would have even been a contest," Daigre said. "We knew we could drive the ball down the field, we just had to stop turning the ball over and giving them opportunities."
Louisiana Tech was able to claw its way back into the game because of turnovers, but the Bulldogs, inevitably, lost the game because of turnovers as well. Both teams had their fair share of miscues as McCown tossed five interceptions and the Bulldogs fumbled once while Auburn quarterback Daniel Cobb kept Tech in the game by throwing four interceptions himself.
Louisiana Tech quarterback Luke McCown
And Cobb's total could have easily been five if Bulldog cornerback Jason Olford would have held onto a ball he dropped that was right in his hands with nothing but green grass between him and the end zone on the Tigers' final possession in regulation play with the score tied.
Olford said it would have been clear sailing if he would have intercepted the pass with just 24 seconds remaining in the game. "Big-time players make those plays," he added. "I just wasn't able to make it. I should have made it, but I did step in front of it and stop it from being completed. Like I said, big-time players make those plays."
Turnovers were such a part of the game that McCown's theory of how you win a game was altered. "(Football) is a game of turnovers and this changed my concept about football," McCown said. "This game is won and lost on turnovers, not points. Obviously, you score points to win the game, but if we don't have five picks and fumble, we win this ball game."
As much as the Bulldogs would have liked to have won this game, the WAC team can still take away several positives. "Unfortunately, experience doesn't come with playing good all the time," McCown said. "Experience comes with playing bad and making mistakes and throwing the ball down the middle of the field to basically get rid of it. You just have to gain that extra knowledge and take it into the next game and get better."
If McCown can apply that extra knowledge with the Bulldogs being so close to pulling off a big upset, the future looks bright for Bicknell and his team. "This would have been, obviously, a great win," Bicknell said. "Auburn is a great football team. The fact that we can come into Auburn put them into overtime, I think that kind of speaks where our program is at, right there. It would have been nice to win, but to take them into overtime I'm proud of that."