MOBILE, Ala. — Louisiana survived a scare from South Alabama Saturday night at Hancock Whitney Stadium. The Jaguars missed a 37-yard field goal with 1:11 left on the clock and the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to run out the clock and pick up a 20-18 road victory.
With the win, Louisiana improves to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Louisiana struck first as Chris Smith took the opening kickoff and returned it 87 yards. A few moments later, Smith scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added to their lead in the first quarter with a 4-play, 57-yard drive as Levi Lewis tucked it and ran it in from 22 yards out.
While the Louisiana offense was rolling early, the defense shut down South Alabama’s offense holding the Jaguars to three yards on their first two drives.
At the end of the first quarter, Ragin’ Cajuns held a 14-0 lead.
Louisiana began the second quarter with a drive stalling out and Nate Synder missed the 43-yard field goal attempt in a slight drizzle.
South Alabama took a gamble in the second quarter when the Jaguars attempted a fake punt from their own 34-yard line. Louisiana’s defense stopped the rushing attempt for a three-yard loss and gave the offense a short field.
The Ragin’ Cajuns took advantage with a 15-yard touchdown run by Emani Bailey. Synder’s extra point was no good.
The Jaguars finally got on the board right before halftime with an 11-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that took 5:09 off the clock. Bryan Hill powered his way in from one yard out. South Alabama’s extra point attempt was blocked by Kendall Wilkerson.
Louisiana was able to get down the field and got into field goal range. Synder would miss the 42-yard attempt as the clock expired.
South Alabama managed to cut into that lead on its second possession of the second half.
The Jaguars needed only eight plays to go 78 yards and Hill capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The extra point attempt boinked off the upright.
After South Alabama’s Chris Henderson recovered a Montrell Johnson fumble, the Jaguars took advantage with the ensuing drive (which featured a fake punt that picked up 38 yards) and capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Jake Bentley on fourth and goal. The two-point conversion attempt was no good as Zi’Yon Hill sacked Bentley.
After another quick drive by the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Jaguars appeared primed to take the lead. Bentley hit Jalen Tolbert for a 61-yard completion. The drive would stall near the goal line and instead of kicking the field goal, South Alabama went for it on fourth-and-one from the four-yard line. Bentley’s pass to the tight end hit the turf.
The Ragin’ Cajuns punted yet again and gave the Jaguars the ball with 3:20 left on the clock. Bentley guided them down the field and Diego Gunjarda’s 37-yard attempt sailed wide right by only a few inches.
BIG NUMBER: 225
Even though the Ragin’ Cajuns ran only 10 rushing plays in the second half, the team still rolled up 225 yards on the ground and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: EMANI BAILEY & ZI’YON HILL
The Ragin’ Cajuns running back led all rushers with 81 yards on only seven carries and scored a rushing touchdown. Hill meanwhile had two tackles for a loss, one sack and sacked Bentley on a two-point conversion attempt.
UP NEXT: Louisiana (4-1, 2-0 SBC) will host Appalachian State on Tuesday, October 12th.