Louisiana Tech 27, Hawaii 6
Turns out that something special was tailback Daniel Porter.
The senior rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, moved up the charts on three career rushing lists and helped the Bulldogs to a dominant 27-6 win Wednesday night. He also wiped away all those questions surrounding a slow start.
"I got my mojo back tonight," Porter said, adding, "I'm not going to say I was in a slump, but I wasn't getting my yards.
Porter jumped from 10th to eighth on the Louisiana Tech (2-2, 1-0 WAC) career rushing list and kept Hawaii (2-2, 0-1) on the chase the entire game. The senior surpassed his season total of 145 yards rushing, as did the team with 352.
The Bulldogs entered the game ranked 103rd of 120 FBS teams with 97.3 yards rushing per game. Porter nearly reached that number in the first half and continued to make big runs as Louisiana Tech pulled away in the second half for its ninth win in its last 10 home games.
"The problem with the run was (it was) the worst exhibition of tackling in football," Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said. "We were diving and not tackling the way we teach. We're not that kind of football team."
The Louisiana Tech defense had no problem tackling and was dominant as well, snapping Hawaii's 62-game streak with at least one touchdown. The Bulldogs held the No. 7 offense to minus-7 yards rushing and 301 total yards, well below its average of 515.3.
Tech defenders kept the Warriors out of the end zone with a goal-line stand late in the second quarter and sacked quarterback Greg Alexander five times before knocking him from the game late in the third, and finished with seven.
"The sacks are just devastating," Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley said.
The Warriors played their third consecutive road game for the first time since 1964, traveling to Seattle to play Washington State and Las Vegas for UNLV before the 13-hour trip to Ruston. It was just their fifth Western Athletic Conference loss in the last 25 league games.
McMackin said there is "no whining in football" but acknowledged his team appeared to be at a low ebb as it weathered home games 36 days apart.
"We didn't have any energy and didn't play our best game," he said. "We're really looking forward to going home and playing Fresno State in front of our crowd."
All the travel helps explain why it appeared Porter got stronger as the game went on. The Warriors had allowed just 126.7 yards rushing per game, but Porter passed that early in the second half. He played sparingly in the fourth quarter, but picked up runs of 19 and 14 yards on Bulldogs' final scoring drive, which ended in a field goal.
Porter scored his first touchdown late in the first quarter from 3 yards out, helping the Bulldogs to a 10-6 halftime lead. The Bulldogs rushed nine times on the 11-play drive for 71 yards. Porter had 47 of his 95 first-half yards on the drive.
Adrian Logan tipped Alexander's first pass of the second half at the line of scrimmage and fellow defensive lineman Kwame Jordan intercepted the pass. The Bulldogs moved down to the 7 and Porter scored from a yard out after three consecutive carries to make it 17-6.
Myke Compton's 6-yard score with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter put the Bulldogs up 24-6 and the game out of reach after Alexander injured his left knee on a hard hit by Adrien Cole.
Tyrone Duplessis added 75 yards rushing and Phillip Livas had 52 in Dooley's first win against Hawaii.
Porter finished shy of his career high of 189 yards, set last season against Fresno State. It was still a great day for the senior. Along with moving up on the career rushing list (he now has 2,514 yards), he moved into ninth on the career carries list (468) and needs one more rushing touchdown (21) to enter the Top 10 in that category.
Porter bought his offensive line dinner last week and might think about doing it again.
"I just ordered pizza and had them over to my house," Porter said. "Just wanted to let them know they did a great job last year, and thought it was right to do. I told them I'd do whatever it took to (be successful) again this year."