NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns kicked off the Michael Desormeaux era with a 36-21 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd in the R&L Carriers News Orleans Bowl on Saturday night. The win inside the Caesars Superdome was the program’s 13th straight of the 2021 season, which extended its own record.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Louisiana scored on the opening kickoff for the sixth time this season as the Ragin’ Cajuns went 81 yards on 13 plays. Lewis was highly efficient completing 5-of-6 passes, rushing for 13 more, and throwing a nine-yard touchdown to Kyren Lacy.
After forcing Marshall to go three-and-out, Louisiana added to its lead with a 42-yard field goal by Nate Snyder.
Marshall needed only a few plays to respond as Rasheen Ali took the handoff, made one cut, and outran Louisiana’s defenders for a 63-yard touchdown.
At the end of the first, the Ragin’ Cajuns held a 10-7 lead.
After the two teams traded punts to start the second, Marshall took the lead and did so with Ali’s rushing ability.
Ali rushed for 32 yards on first down and then two plays later, scored on a 14-yard run.
Louisiana would cut Marshall’s lead down to 14-13 with a 25-yard field goal with 1:28 left before half. The Ragin’ Cajuns defense then forced the first turnover of the game as former Acadiana High star Bralen Trahan intercepted Grant Wells and returned 26 yards to the Thundering Herd 44-yard-line.
Lewis found Jacob Benard in single coverage down the left sideline for a 42-yard reception. The drive stalled and the Ragin’ Cajuns had to settle for a 24-yard field goal.
Marshall attempted to ice Synder by taking back-to-back timeouts but the Ragin’ Cajuns kicker kicked his third field goal. Synder’s three field goals tied Hunter Stover and Brett Baer for most by a Louisiana kicker in the New Orleans Bowl.
After forcing Marshall to punt to open the second half, Louisiana had a chance to put up more points but came up short. Lewis, who completed a 17-yard pass to Bernard and a 12-yard pass to Dontae Fleming, led the Ragin’ Cajuns to the 12-yard line. Instead of kicking the short field goal, Louisiana opted to go for it on fourth and one but Lewis’ pass was incomplete.
Louisiana’s defense stood tall and former Catholic High star Trey Amos forced a fumble on third down, and Marshall was forced to punt the ball away.
The Ragin’ Cajuns offense was unable to capitalize and forced to punt. The Thundering Herd took advantage and capped off the 13-play, 63-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run by Ali.
Louisiana reclaimed the lead with a 8-play, 68-yard drive as Emani Bailey scored a four-yard rushing touchdown. The Ragin’ Cajuns went for two but the pass attempt by Lewis was incomplete.
With 8:20 left in the fourth, Louisiana held a 22-21 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns then sealed the win with a six-play, 73-yard drive as Lewis found Michael Jefferson for a 54-yard completion. A few plays later, Montrell Johnson powered his way into the end zone with a three-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and Louisiana held a 29-21 lead. A few minutes later, a two-yard touchdown run by Bailey with 1:41 left on the clock would seal the victory.
BIG NUMBER: 5
Louisiana’s offense made the most of its opportunities in the red zone as the Ragin’ Cajuns scored on five of its six trips inside the 20-yard line.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: LEVI LEWIS & NATE SNYDER
Louisiana’s senior quarterback completed 19-of-31 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown, while also leading the team in rushing with 74 yards on 12 carries. Snyder meanwhile was 3-of-3 on field goal attempts, all in the first half, which were critical in the first half.