Tech Conducts Sunday Scrimmage

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley and staff will have plenty of film to watch after the Bulldogs conducted a 122-play scrimmage Sunday night at Joe Aillet Stadium.

Dooley said he saw plenty of positives and negatives in what he called his team's last real scrimmage of fall camp as the Bulldogs prepare to open the season Aug. 30 at home against Mississippi State.

"We had a 122-play situational scrimmage where we had six situations – really ended up being seven because we had an overtime – where either a team was up a touchdown, down a touchdown, up 11, down 11 or tied," Dooley said. "The glaring disappointment was the undisciplined penalties in critical situations, and that's why we do this.

"The guys have to learn how to cope with fatigue and pressure. The good teams always execute the simple things at the end of games to win. This was a great learning experience and will give us a lot of film to study."

There were plenty of highlights during the event, including an 18-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Josh Wheeler from quarterback Taylor Bennett in the first under 4-minute scenario of the night.

Wheeler, who has missed a lot of fall camp due to an injury, finished the night with three receptions for 72 yards and one score.

In the third situation of the night (two teams tied at 24-24), the undisciplined penalties Dooley referred to reared their ugly heads and ultimately affected the outcome. Kicker Brad Oestriecher lined up for a 42-yard field goal but back-to-back false starts pushed the ball back 10 yards and Oestriecher's 52-yard field goal hit the left upright and fell away, sending the two teams into "overtime."

In the first overtime, Joel Hall's 37-yard field goal gave one team a 27-24 lead before Bennett hit Phillip Livas for a 19-yard score on a fourth-down-and-15 play that gave Bennett's team the win.

For the night, Bennett completed 27-of-44 passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

"It's the classic case at quarterback," Dooley said. "You can play a great game but if you make two bad decisions down the stretch, it can cost you the game. We were down three and in field goal range on one possession and Taylor got greedy and made a throw he would have liked back. That's why we do this so hopefully we won't make those mistakes in a game."

Deon Young and Josh Victorian recorded the two interceptions on the night for the Bulldog defense.

Bennett's third touchdown pass of the night came in the next-to-last situational scenario of the evening when he found freshman Houston Tuminello for a 15-yard score.

Sophomore Ross Jenkins who is competing with Bennett for the starting job completed 11-of-21 passes for 141 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He scrambled for a 15-yard score. Seventeen different Bulldog players recorded at least one reception in the game, led by tight end Dustin Mitchell with five catches for 85 yards. Earl Griffin also caught five passes for 69 yards while Tuminello grabbed four balls for 46 yards and one score.

The Tech offenses recorded 12 pass plays of 18 yards or more on the night.

"I'm pleased with the offenses ability to make big plays," Dooley said. "We're making more than we've ever made. That's encouraging. On defense, we are giving up too many. That was our Achilles heal last year so we are going to have to watch film and fix our mistakes."

The Bulldog defense recorded four sacks on the night, including two by Jared Barron and one each by D'Anthony Smith and Mason Hitt.

Jared Barron has been playing better," Dooley said. "Like all those guys, he shows signs that he could be a very good player. It's whether he can do it consistently that only time will tell."

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