You can excuse the good people of Ruston, Louisiana if they
feel that any game played by their Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
is not over until the Bulldogs come from behind to win.
That would be because the Bulldogs logged their 7th
come-from-behind victory of the season in the Independence
Bowl Saturday (12-28-08), beating Northern Illinois 17-10.
The win was sweet for Derek Dooley as it represented his
first bowl victory as a head coach. Dooley is none other
than a former protege of Alabama head coach
Nick Saban and son of the legendary Georgia coach and
athletic director Vince Dooley. Young Dooley used his
special teams, defense and a running game to turn back
Senior defensive back Weldon Brown proved to be the
Bulldogs big stopper. Brown stopped one Husky scoring
threat with a shoestring tackle to set up a 4th down, then
batted down the ensuing pass. He also recovered a fumbled
punt to set up a field goal attempt, and ended one of two
late Husky drives with an interception when the game was on
the line. Brown finished with 14 tackles and the Most
Valuable Defensive Player award.
On special teams, sophomore wide receiver Phil Livas took a
kickoff return to the house for a 97-yard score, and junior
running back Dan Porter rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The postseason win was Louisiana Tech's first in 31 years;
their last win also came in the Independence Bowl in 1977.
The victory left the Bulldogs with their first 8-win season
in 9 years. They finished the year at 8-5 while Northern
Illinois slid to 6-7.
Louisiana Tech was not even expected to be in a bowl game
but was selected when neither the Southeastern Conference
(SEC) nor Big 12 could produce a participant.
Derek Dooley inherited a team that went 3-10. He improved
the Bulldogs to 5-7 last year and now has them at 8-5 and a
bowl victory in his second full season. Dooley's Bulldogs
upset Mississippi State to kick off this season and then
won 4 of their last 5 games to get to the Independence Bowl
and generate more glory for the Bulldog faithful.
Louisiana Tech and Derek Dooley are on the way up. We know
this because the Bulldogs scored 8 non-offensive touchdowns
this season to tie for the most in major college football.
When you score on defense or special teams, everyone gets
In addition to Livas' 97-yard TD return in the Independence
Bowl, he returned 2 punts for touchdowns during the regular
season. The last player to return a kickoff for a touchdown
in the Independence Bowl was a guy named Deuce McAllister
who did it for Mississippi 10 years ago.
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