RUSTON, La. (AP) — Freshman Jacob Fields turned his only touch into a 30-yard touchdown run with a minute to play to lift Louisiana Tech to a 22-17 season-opening win over Florida International on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs pulled it out after being dominated in the first quarter before the defense shutdown the Panthers.
After Fields, fifth on the depth chart but pressed into duty by injuries in the backfield, scored, Cecil Singleton sealed it with an interception. La Tech limited FIU to a program low four passing yards and just 75 yards rushing after the first quarter. Before the pick the Panthers had six 3-and-outs on seven drives.
Hank Bachmeier, a Boise State transfer who threw 41 touchdown passes in four years, was 34 of 44 for 333 yards. He threw an early interception that led to a Panther touchdown but on the last two drives he was clutch.
First he guided the Bulldogs into field goal range but Jacob Barnes missed his second field goal. However, the defense, which only allowed one first down after falling behind 17-3, forced a 3-and-out and Bachmeier cashed in with a 69-yard drive in 61 seconds.
The Panthers had 103 rushing yards in the first quarter when Shomari Lawrence had a 67-yard TD burst up the middle and Antonio Patterson had a 6-yard scoring run.
Barnes converted from 40 and 32 yards in the second quarter but missed from 37. Combined with Smoke Harris turning a short grab into a 64-yard touchdown, FIU only led 17-13 at the half. Barnes also had a 46-yard make before missing his last attempt from 43.
Lawrence had 15 carries for 139 yards but FIU quarterback Grayson James was 5 of 14. Harris had 11 catches for 155 yards for La Tech.
The season opener served as the Conference-USA opener for the two teams that had losing records last season when FIU won the matchup 42-34 in double overtime.
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