MOSCOW, Idaho - Louisiana Tech needed a win. The Bulldog defense needed to make a statement.
Both were accomplished Saturday afternoon as Tech defeated Idaho 24-11 in the Kibbie Dome as the Bulldogs defense forced four turnovers and allowed only a field goal as Tech (2-4, 1-1 WAC) snapped its three-game losing streak.
With the victory, Tech improved to 5-2 all-time against Idaho (1-5, 0-2 WAC) and ruined the Vandals homecoming celebration.
With the Tech offense struggling in the opening half, the Bulldog defense stopped the Vandals time after time while also contributing the only touchdown of the opening 30 minutes of play.
After a scoreless first quarter, Matt Nelson's 23-yard field goal on the first play of the second stanza gave Tech a 3-0 lead. Following an Idaho safety that cut the lead to 3-2, the Bulldogs defense struck with the game-changing play as linebacker Jay Dudley recorded the first of three interceptions by Tech on the day and returned it 53 yards for a score.
Nelson's extra point gave Tech a 10-2 lead with 4:47 to play in the second quarter. Idaho kicker Trey Farquhar made the score 10-5 at the half with a 43-yard boot late in the second.
After both teams failed to score early in the second half, Tech finally put together a touchdown drive, covering 53 yards on seven plays with walk-on running back Hunter Lee paving the way. Nick Isham's six-yard strike to David Gru in the back of the endzone with 6:19 to play gave Tech a 17-5 advantage.
One possession later, Lee and the Bulldog offense marched 40-yards on six plays to grab a 24-5 advantage on a one-yard run by Isham with only 5 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Idaho's offense had numerous opportunities to put scoring drives together but the Bulldogs defense stood tall, holding Vandals quarterback Brian Reader to only 19-of-47 passes for 244 yards and three interceptions. Jamel Johnson and Quin Giles both recorded interceptions in the second half.
The only touchdown of the game for Idaho came on special teams when Justin Veltung returned a punt 81 yards for a score with 3:35 to play in the game.
With Lennon Creer standing on the sideline for most of the second half, the little-used Lee made the most of his opportunity, rushing a career-high 28 times for 134 yards. His 18-yard gallop over the left side with just over a minute to play sealed the win for Tech.
While the Tech defense did its part, it was helped by the incredible punting performance by Ryan Allen, who punted 10 times for a career-best 48.0 yard average, including six punts down inside the 20-yard line. Four of Allen's punts were downed inside the Vandals 10-yard line.
With Idaho playing two-deep coverage for most of the game, Isham took what the defense gave him, completing 25-of-39 passes for 163 yards and one score. Quinton Patton caught nine passes for a total of 34 yards while Gru had four for 28 and the score.
Creer ended the game with 54 yards on 10 carries but sat most of the second half while Lee posted career numbers.
Adrien Cole led the Tech defense with eight tackles and one fumble recovery while Dudley added six tackles and the interception return for a touchdown one day after his birthday.
Tech returns to action Oct. 15 when it travels to Logan to face Utah State.