Plastered in Ruston — With slaughter of Idaho, La. Tech breaks numerous records
Sixth-year head coach Robb Akey suffered through his third and final 70-point game, La. Tech amassed its school record for rushing yards in a single game and the visiting Vandals walked away from Ruston with a 70-28 loss, their seventh of the season.
Akey coached his final game at the helm, as it was announced Sunday afternoon that his contract had been terminated by the athletic department and offensive coordinator Jason Gesser would take over as interim head coach
The man who coached Idaho to a Humanitarian Bowl victory in 2009 couldn’t have gone out on a more sour note, much of that due to Idaho’s opponent, which had the best offensive showing by an FBS team this season.
“If we’re going to be in a shoot-out, we have to shoot,” Akey said. “When we did get settled in, we didn’t get the run game stopped.”
The Bulldogs compiled 839 total yards of offense and watched their 18-year-old, true freshman running back play a game of tag with the Vandal defense. Kenneth Dixon accounted for six of La. Tech’s 10 touchdowns and ran for 232 yards, more than half of what Idaho’s offense accumulated the entire game.
“The good thing is he’ll get even better when he learns to run lower and quits taking so many shots. He’ll get better and better as he learns that,” La. Tech coach Sonny Dykes said.
Though the Bulldogs kicked off to begin the game, it only took them 12 seconds to score their first touchdown. Idaho kick returner Todd Handley mishandled the kickoff and the Bulldogs recovered at their own one-yard line, handing the ball to Dixon for the easy score.
An Idaho three-and-out ensued and Dixon was unstoppable on the next drive, scoring from two yards out after his 27-yard run set the hosts up on the Vandal goal line.
The Vandals wouldn’t surrender quite yet though. Akey and Gesser reached into their bag of tricks and on their second offensive play, quarterback Dominique Blackman threw a lateral pass to receiver Roman Runner, who would then chuck it down field to an unmarked Najee Lovett for the 58-yard touchdown pass.
Runner’s pass stands as Idaho’s second longest of the season.
Though Idaho was unable to hold the Bulldogs on their next drive, Handley would avenge his early mistake on the next kickoff return, utilizing a burst of speed to take it 92 yards for a touchdown. Handley, a freshman running back, recorded his first touchdown as a Vandal.
As had been the case all game, Idaho remained clueless when the Bulldog offense took the field. La. Tech relied heavily on Dixon and the run game, but Manning Award watch list nominee Colby Cameron was still able to showcase his efficiency.
The senior had yet to throw an interception this season and was able to maintain the streak Saturday, while going 29 of 37 with 400 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.
“I didn’t expect it. Idaho has been a really physical team, but everyone has bought into our offense, and I think that helps us put points up. It’s a momentum thing,” Cameron said.
Blackman, who leads the nation in interceptions thrown with 13, tossed two in Idaho’s third WAC game this season. He threw for just one touchdown and was 20 of 35.
Idaho, 1-2 in the WAC, has a bye week before hosting one of the conference’s biggest surprises this season. With a win against Texas State this weekend, San Jose State will come to Moscow with a 6-2 record, and losses coming to Stanford and Utah State.
Despite the dismal season Idaho has experienced, Gesser, who was the head coach at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash., two years ago, hopes his players find the motive to play out the rest of the season.
“We’ve got to play for each other and that’s the biggest thing we need to get right now,” Idaho’s interim head coach said.
Theo Lawson can be reached at email@example.com