Thursday's bowl: Louisiana Tech shuts out Miami

Associated Press
Louisiana Tech's J'Mar Smith celebrates with teammates  after winning Thursday's Independence Bowl against Miami.

Shreveport, La. — J’Mar Smith threw a touchdown pass and had a late scoring run to help Louisiana Tech beat Miami, 14-0, on Thursday night in the only shutout in the Independence Bowl’s 44-game history.

Louisiana Tech (10-3) reached double-digit victories for the first time since 1984 and ran its postseason winning streak to six — the longest current streak in the country.

“To have the 10-win season and to beat a Power 5 team in a bowl game, I can’t put into words my feelings and my emotions for what these players have accomplished,” coach Skip Holtz said.

Miami (6-7) completed its second losing season in 12 years. The Hurricanes have lost nine of 10 bowl games.

More: Report: Miami, offensive coordinator Dan Enos to part ways

According to Stats Inc., the Bulldogs became the first Group of 5 program to shut out a Power 5 school in a bowl game since the beginning of the BCS/College Football Playoff era in 1998.

“I can’t fault the efforts of our players. I’m certainly proud of the way we played defensively — they had their backs against the wall all night,” Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said. “Our inability to sustain drives on offense gave us no chance to win this football game.”

Smith connected with Israel Tucker on a 26-yard touchdown strike on a screen pass in the second quarter, capping a 13-play, 91-yard drive. Smith added an 8-yard scoring run with 1:15 left.

Bulldogs running back Justin Henderson was selected the Most Outstanding Offensive Player after rushing for 95 yards on 22 carries. Smith completed 13 of 28 passes for 163 yards with one interception.

Miami entered the game with the nation’s worst third-down conversion percentage, and going 5 for 14 on Thursday won’t help that much. The Hurricanes finished the year with three straight losses and averaging only 25.7 points per game. It raises more questions about the future of offensive coordinator Dan Enos, whose lone season with the Hurricanes saw the offense perform well below expectations.

The teams set the game record for punts at 18, with both tying the single-club record of nine.

The Bulldogs won 70 miles west of their campus in Ruston.

“I’m really proud of the experience to have that many fans here when we ran out of the tunnel — to see all the red and blue in the stands was awesome,” Holtz said.