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) hit double-digit victories for the first time since 1984 and ran its postseason winning streak to six. Miami (6-7) completed its second losing season in 12 years.
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.
The teams set the game record for punts at 18, with both tying the single-club record of nine.
Louisiana Tech: The season will forever be tainted by “what if” for the Bulldogs. Following a season-opening loss at Texas, Louisiana Tech rattled off eight straight wins before Smith was suspended two games for violating an undisclosed program policy. The Bulldogs lost those two games and won the regular-season finale when Smith returned. What if Louisiana Tech would have run the table? Could it have challenged Memphis for the Group of 5 slot in the College Football Playoff’s New Year’s Six?
Miami: During bowl week, Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said the “plan” wasn’t to play three quarterbacks. Sure enough, Miami played three quarterbacks — Jarren Williams, Tate Martell, N’Kosi Perry — and found no success. Perry, who didn’t play until the fourth quarter, showed the most promise through the air, although none of the three threw for 100 yards.