Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State New Orleans Bowl recap, score and what’s next for the Bulldogs and Red Wolves.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Recap
Prediction: Arkansas State 28, Louisiana Tech 23, Line: Louisiana Tech -1, o/u: 66
Score: Louisiana Tech 47, Arkansas State 28
And You Care Because … Louisiana Tech busted open a 20-20 game in the second half with Jeff Driskel finding Kenneth Dixon for a 59-yard pass play, and then the floodgates opened. It was the Dixon show from then on, playing through a banged up leg with an eight-yard touchdown run and a four-yard score to become the NCAA’s all-time leading touchdown scorer – and to give the Bulldogs a 44-20 lead. Arkansas State answered the final Dixon score with a kickoff return for a score from Blaise Taylor to make it interesting, but a nine-minute drive put the game away.
– Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon ran 21 times for 102 yards and two scores, and caught six passes for 112 yards and two scores.
– Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel completed 26-of-27 passes for a career-high 457 yards and three scores.
– Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran just twice for three yards before leaving the game hurt.
– Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor caught ten passes for 149 yards and a score.
– Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 14-of-28 passes for 137 yards and two picks, and ran 13 times for 40 yards and a score.
– Penalties: Louisiana Tech 13 for 154 yards – Arkansas State 11 for 109 yards
– Total Yards: Louisiana Tech 687 – Arkansas State 323
Game Rating: C+. While the fireworks from Louisiana Tech were fun, and Kenneth Dixon was incredible, Arkansas State wasn’t the same with RB Michael Gordon knocked out early. There were too many penalties and too many stalls from the ASU offense.
What’s next for Arkansas State?
After a brilliant year, QB Fredi Knighten is done with James Tabary getting the first look going into next year. Also gone is star RB Michael Gordon and top TE Darion Griswold, but there are still playmakers returning. The 1-2 rushing punch of Warren Wand and Johnson White should be fine behind one of the Sun Belt’s best lines – four starters returning. The receiving corps is the concern with J.D. McKissic and Tres Houston both gone along with Griswold. Dijon Paschal will have to rise up as a key target.
Four of the top six tacklers are back led by linebackers Khari Lain and Xavier Woodson, while the defensive front should dominate in the backfield with Ja’Von Rolland-Jones one of the Sun Belt’s best playmakers. Three starters are back on the line with good depth ready to start doing more. The secondary loses FS Chris Humes and top CB Rocky Hayes, but SS Cody Brown and key part of the rotation Money Hunter should hold down the pass defense. P Luke Ferguson is done after averaging 43 yards per punt, but PK J.D. Houston is back after a terrific season.
What’s next for Louisiana Tech?
For the third straight year, Skip Holtz will be auditioning a new starting quarterback now that Jeff Driskel is finished. Record-setting RB Kenneth Dixon is gone, too, so the offense will build around last season’s top two receivers, Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson, and a line bringing back its center and entire left side.
The staff will oversee a major rebuilding job this offseason. As many as eight starters were seniors, including All-Conference USA DT Vernon Butler, LB Nick Thomason and CB Bryson Abraham. The new cornerstones will be all-star S Xavier Woods and DE Jaylon Ferguson, who led the team in sacks. Jonathan Barnes is one of the nation’s top young kickers.