Tech Runs Past Fresno State 38-35

RUSTON -- Junior Daniel Porter rushed for a career-high 189-yards and two touchdowns Saturday to propel Louisiana Tech (4-4; 2-2 WAC) to a 38-35 win over WAC-rival Fresno State (5-3; 2-2 WAC) at Joe Aillet Stadium.

"Running the football is always harder when you play good teams," said Tech head coach Derek Dooley. "I don't think we ran the ball well early, but we didn't get frustrated. We kept hitting and hitting them.

"Toughness, effort and attitude ... that's what we build our program on. To play with that consistency is the challenge. I hope we can do it again next week."

Porter's 43-yard touchdown run with 1:37 to play in the game gave the LA Tech Bulldogs a 10-point lead and proved to be the eventual game-winner.

"The offensive line did a great job and our receivers blocked well too," Porter said. "I just ran and ran the ball hard. It was determination. I knew I needed to get into the end zone. I have fun out there."

With Tech leading 38-28, Fresno State drove 67 yards in seven plays to cut the lead to 38-35 with a touchdown pass from Tom Brandstater to Bear Pascoe with 00:44 to play.

Freshman wide receiver R.P. Stuart recovered the onside kick and LA Tech ran out the clock to win for the fourth time in four tries at Joe Aillet Stadium this year.

"I didn't question our heart today," said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. "We had some opportunities. We have to capitalize on every series. Every play is a must and every game is a must game."

Porter wasn't the only offensive hero for the Bulldogs as senior running back Patrick Jackson had his best game of the year, rushing for 59 yards and one score while also catching two passes for 30 yards and another score.

The Tech offensive line, which was dominated last week in a 14-7 loss to Army, came up big as the Bulldogs totaled 280 yards on the ground.

"I was as proud of these guys as any I've ever coached," Dooley said. "We've had adversity after adversity all week, but we played with character."

Tech's Bulldogs struck first with a one-yard run by Porter with 6:39 in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead after an eight-play, 49-yard drive that took 4:04 off the clock.

Fresno State struck back with a 13-yard touchdown reception by junior Seyi Ajirotutu to tie the score at 7-7. Ajirotutu ended the game with seven catches for 137 yards and two scores.

Fresno State took its first lead of the ballgame early in the second quarter when freshman Rashad Evans returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown with 13:56 left in the first half.

Tech sophomore Phillip Livas returned the favor at the 5:51 mark of the second quarter with a punt return of his own for a touchdown from 81 yards out to tie the game at 14-14. It was Livas' second punt return of the year for a score and the fourth longest in Louisiana Tech history.

Fresno State added a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brandstater to tight end Bear Pascoe late in the first half to take a 21-14 lead.

Tech tied the game early in the second half when sophomore quarterback Ross Jenkins completed his first collegiate touchdown pass with 10:27 on the clock from 27 yards out to Jackson for a 21-21 score.

Jenkins ended the game 7-of-12 for 88 yards and one score. Taylor Bennett also saw some playing time in the second quarter, and completed 5-of-9 passes for 29 yards and one interception.

Placekicker Brad Oestriecher added to the lead with a 28-yard field goal to give Tech a 24-21 lead with 2:40 to go in the third.

However, it took Fresno State less than 40 seconds to retake the lead when Ajirotutu caught his second touchdown pass of the day to take the lead 28-24.

With LA Tech trailing by four, the Bulldogs marched 97 yards on 14 plays and took 7:04 off the clock to take the lead with a one-yard touchdown run by Jackson and a fourth down play with 8:56 to play in the game. The drive consisted of 13 rushes and only one pass.

Fresno State then took the ensuing kickoff and drove inside Tech territory but a fourth down and seven pass from Brandstater fell incomplete giving the Louisiana-based Bulldogs the football.

Porter then reeled off four straight carries, including the final one for 43-yards off the right side to give Tech a 38-28 lead.

Defensively, Tech dominated Fresno State in the trenches, holding the Bulldogs to only 63 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

Antonio Baker led Tech with 10 tackles, one key second quarter interception that led to a score and a blocked punt.

"It was just me bringing my game up a level and doing what it takes to win," Baker said. "For me, the ultimate goal is to get the job done."

Tech returns to action next Saturday at San Jose State.

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