Cougars fall to Louisiana Tech

Despite 580 passing yards and four touchdowns from quarterback David Piland, UH could not prevail. Piland set an NCAA single-game record for most attempts without an interception at 77,  but it was still not enough.

For the Cougars, a mixed bag of missed opportunities on offense and a porous defense led to a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech at Robertson Stadium on Saturday.

Both teams put on an offensive clinic, combining for 105 points, 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“I’m proud of their effort tonight. I am disappointed for the second straight week. There are no moral victories,” said head coach Tony Levine.

A week after offense could not muster enough points to put the Cougars in a position for a second-half comeback, the defense had a similar effort.

Following a rough start for UH, the Bulldogs led 21-6. The Cougars seemed to steal the momentum going into halftime after a 32-yard Piland touchdown pass to Ronnie Willams and a Charles Sims two-yard score brought the tally within reach. UH trailed 21-20 at the midpoint.

That was the closest that UH ever got to the lead.

Louisiana Tech opened the second half with 14 unanswered points and never looked back. Whenever the team needed to respond, the Bulldogs’ made a play. Louisiana Tech’s second drive of the third quarter began at their own 1-yard line. Four plays later the Bulldogs were in the end zone on Tevin King’s 59-yard touchdown scamper.

Sophomore linebacker Derrick Mathews said not stopping those big plays was the team’s downfall on defense.

“It always hurts because what that play could have turned out to be instead of what it did turn out to be. It always hurts when you know you could have stopped the play and been off the field,” Mathews said.

The defense could not stop the run or the pass, giving up 598 total yards. The Cougars have not allowed 56 points at home since a 65-27 loss to No. 8 Louisville in 2004. Tevin King rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries, with three rushing touchdowns. Kenneth Dixon also finished with 99 rushing yards. since beating Mississippi Valley State in their 2000 season opener, 56 is the most points that Louisiana Tech has scored.

UH’s offense did find rhythm and cohesion, but missteps and mental errors turned red zone drives where touchdowns were a possibility into field goals.

The Cougars had penalties in crucial situations that extended Louisiana Tech drives and that stalled UH ones. UH had 15 penalties for 138 yards.

The offense scored 13 points with Mike Nesbitt as coordinator and exploded for 49 this week. Travis Bush’s offense used more misdirection and quick throws that got the ball out of Piland’s hand quickly. Piland was able to get into a rhythm early and spread the ball around. He hit nine different receivers and got his play-makers more opportunities to touch the ball.

“It was a game plan type deal. Take some easier throws, make my reads a lot simpler and get play-makers involved,” Piland said.

The team put an emphasis on getting the ball in Charles Sims’ hands. Against Texas State, Sims had 14 touches, Sims had 12 carries and seven receptions by halftime on Saturday. Sims finished with 32 touches for a total of 118 yards. Daniel Spencer caught seven balls and had 157 yards receiving.

Obviously, 693 yards of total offense and a career day from your quarterback is what you want from your offense, the defense did not play well enough to win though.

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