For the second straight season, Saturday’s contest between the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns and UL Monroe came down to clutch field goal kicking. In the final seconds of the ballgame, it felt like deja vu for the Warhawks with Jared Porter missing a 35-yard field goal to give the Cajuns a 31-30 victory.
How It Happened:
The Warhawks started out the contest with a great opening drive that got to the Cajuns 24-yard line, but on a 4th-and-8 former Acadiana High Wreckin’ Ram Bralen Trahan picked off Caleb Evans and broke off a 54-yard return to flip the field. Levi Lewis made the most of the short field with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Bell just four plays later gave the Cajuns an early 7-0 lead.
After exchanging punts, UL Monroe put together a solid seven-play drive that was capped off by a big 15-yard run from Evans tying things up with 3:03 left in the first quarter. The Cajuns responded early in the second quarter with a big touchdown pass on a 2nd-and-22 from Lewis to Ja’Marcus Bradley who dashed down the field, giving the Cajuns a 14-7 lead.
After a big defensive stop, the Cajuns had a chance to go up by two scores after a great 21-yard reception from Bam Jackson set them up deep in enemy territory. However, a pair of penalties on fourth down pushed them out of field goal range, forcing them to punt. Evans then put the team on his back once again with a 47-yard pass to Josh Pederson to tie things up at 14 with two minutes left until halftime. The Cajuns weren’t quite done though with Raymond Calais putting on the jets once again with an 83-yard run to go up 21-14 as both teams headed into the locker room.
Neither team could really get into that second gear to open up the second quarter, but Evans struck again for the Warhawks with a five-play drive that saw Jonathan Hodoh torch the Cajuns secondary on a 40-yard bomb to even things up at 21. Louisiana didn’t waste much time getting back out in front with Lewis finding Peter Leblanc in the endzone for the third passing touchdown of the evening to go up 28-21.
UL Monroe marched down the field with their next drive with a methodical 12-play drive that ate up 5:29 off the clock and ended with a 23-yard field goal from Porter to make it 28-24. The Cajuns marched down the field early in the fourth quarter, but a pair of false start penalties and a third-down sack by Sam Miller forced Rhys Byrns to pin the Warhawks deep and he did just that with the punt downed at the one-yard line. However, UL Monroe’s offense rolled down the field thanks to a 53-yard run from Josh Johnson and was capped off by Austin Vaughn finding the endzone from 11 yards out go up 30-28, but a missed PAT kept it a two-point ballgame with 7:56 left in regulation.
The Cajuns responded with a 15-play drive that drained as much clock as possible and was helped by a 14-yard run from Levi Lewis on a 4th-and-9 and set up a 27-yard field goal from Stevie Artigue.
UL Monroe made the most of the 1:21 left on the clock with a 10-play drive that was highlighted by a 17-yard completion to Josh Pederson, setting up a big field goal from Jared Porter. Things looked very similar to last year’s wild finish in Monroe with a 35-yard kick being the determining factor. It was like deja vu for the Warhawks with Porter’s field goal sailing wide left to give the Cajuns their 10th win of the season, the most in program history.
Big Number: 1,122
The offense was out in full force for both teams with both teams combining for 1,122 yards with 600 of those yards coming from both Caleb Evans and Levi Lewis.
Player of the Game: Levi Lewis
Saturday night was a magnum opus for the Scotlandville product, going 15-of-23 for 270 yards and three touchdowns through the air to help get the Cajuns another win in the heated in-state rivalry.
Next Up: Sun Belt Championship Game vs App State; Kickoff at 11 am