The Bulldogs did it again. For the fifth straight year, Lousiana Tech takes victory in the Hawai’i Bowl, defeating the Rainbow Warriors 31-14. Adding to the win, star defensive end Jaylon Ferguson became the FBS all-time leader in career sacks with 45, passing the previous record from Arizona State’s Terrell Suggs, who currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Hawai’i played without wide receiver John Ursua last Saturday night. Ursua was sidelined just minutes before the start of the game with an undisclosed injury. He leads the nation with 16 touchdown catches.
The Rainbow Warriors (8-6) were just 2-of-14 on third down and were penalized 12 times for 140 yards. “They’re really good,” Hawai’i head coach Nick Rolovich said about the Bulldogs’ defense. “I think that’s the best defensive front we’ve seen. They can get home with three (pass rushers), they can get home with four, they’re an extremely talented group and I think they were motivated today.”
Hawai’i is now 6-6 in bowl games and 4-4 in their hometown Hawai’i Bowl. However, the Rainbow Warriors still lead the series against Louisiana Tech 8-3.
The night before the bowl game, sixth-year head coach Skip Holtz had to refocus his team to the playbook rather than paradise. “I got a little bit upset (Friday) night, got a little emotional last night because I felt like we were here for vacation and the bowl game, not for the win, and I was wrong. These guys flipped the switch, they went out there and they played their tails off,” Holtz said.
The pre-game talk certainly paid off, as the Bulldogs turned up the heat against the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, scoring 21 straight points in the second half to pull away and pick up the win. Bulldogs quarterback, J’Mar Smith threw for 285 yards, completing 19-of-31 passing with an interception. He also threw a 58-yard touchdown to Jaqwis Dancy and scored on a four-yard run that was part of a 21-point third quarter to lead Louisiana Tech to a 31-14 win. “In the first half, I thought our defense played their tails off. Our offense had three turnovers, we shot ourselves in the foot, we had a number of foolish penalties, we just kept kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Holtz said, “but we came out in the second half, we kept banging that rock and the defense played 60 minutes.
After the game, Jaylon Ferguson was told that he had broken the sack record with his 45th hit. Ferguson is a fifth-year senior who entered Aloha Stadium only needing 1.5 sacks to tie the previous record of 42.5. However, Ferguson made it clear that the Bulldogs meant business when he dropped Hawai’i quarterback, Chevan Cordeiro, late in the third quarter for a two-yard loss. The play even incited a little anger from the Rainbow Warriors. He finished the season with 17.5 sacks and is currently No. 19 on ESPN NFL draft insider Mel Kiper’s Big Board 2019 draft.
After the game, Ferguson reflected on his new achievement, “The record didn’t cross my mind until after the game when everyone told me congratulations. Coming into the game that wasn’t the goal the goal was to win the game in Hawai’i by any means. I could have had zero sacks tonight as long as we won that’s all that mattered.”
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