POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 03, 2010
Louisiana Tech's game of musical chairs at quarterback may have played its final song in 2010.
Senior Ross Jenkins stopped last night's Western Athletic Conference opener from ending in Charleston Southern-like fashion, making Hawaii at least sweat a little in a 41-21 loss at Aloha Stadium.
Jenkins, one of three different Bulldogs to start at quarterback this season, rescued LaTech from a 24-0 deficit in the second quarter.
He finished 19-for-26 for 215 yards and two touchdowns and pulled the Bulldogs to within 11 in the second half.
"Being down 24 points isn't really the best situation," Jenkins said. "I just wanted to go in and try to get some first downs and try to get some points on the board to pick up a little momentum."
Sophomore transfer Tarik Hakmi was the latest Bulldog to try his hand at starting, but had the Bulldogs in a 24-0 hole early in the second quarter.
LaTech's only first-down conversion was on a fake as punter Ryan Allen accounted for all of the Bulldogs' passing yards with Hakmi in the game.
Hakmi completed four passes for zero yards before he was pulled after throwing a second interception to Hawaii safety Mana Silva.
"It's just been a train wreck," first-year Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. "For whatever reason, we've just struggled (at quarterback).
"It's been a weird deal. Guys practice well then won't play well ... and we've got to have a quarterback, especially in this spread offense."
Jenkins, who started all 12 games for the Bulldogs in 2009, looks to be that guy after an impressive showing in relief.
He entered this season as the No. 1 quarterback in Dykes' new spread offense, but was benched after a season-opening win against Grambling in which he completed 15 of 19 passes.
Last night was his first playing time since then, and although Dykes wouldn't commit to a starting quarterback for LaTech's next game against Utah State, he sat Jenkins down in the dugout after meeting with the media and gave his senior quarterback a long pep talk.
"This is the third offense I've played in in my career and you really just have to put all your faith in the coaches," Jenkins said. "They're hired for a reason because they are good at what they do ... and I like this scheme.
"As you saw, we can be a really good offense. We just need to keep working on it and eventually things will click."
Things clicked as soon as Jenkins entered the game. He threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Richie Casey on his opening possession and the Bulldogs racked up 220 total yards on his first three drives.
His second scoring pass, an 8-yard strike to Tim Molton, cut Hawaii's lead to 34-21 in the third quarter. He had the Bulldogs driving in Hawaii territory down 13 in the fourth quarter when a tipped ball landed in the hands of UH cornerback Jeramy Bryant, ending any hopes of a comeback.
"We had a receiver quit on a route who thought he was open and two (receivers) kind of ran in there together," Dykes said. "It's some inexperience on our part and we've got to do a better job of executing."