The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns survived a scare from Sun Belt Conference rival Arkansas State with a 28-27 road victory on Thursday.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Louisiana’s offense struggled to get anything going in the opening quarter of the game.
After Levi Lewis completed a nine-yard pass to Peter LeBlanc on the first offensive play of the game, the Ragin’ Cajuns were stuffed on back-to-back runs up the middle by Chris Smith and forced to punt.
Arkansas State’s opening drive would stall out as well as Lincoln Pare’s rush up the middle on fourth and one was stuffed by Zi’Yon Hill.
Louisiana appeared primed to score with a 12-play, 49-yard drive but on fourth and one at the goal line, Lewis’ pass to John Stephens Jr. was broken up by Elery Alexander.
Arkansas State got on the scoreboard first in the second quarter. The Red Wolves put together a 13-play, 94-yard touchdown drive. Layne Hatcher found Corey Rucker open for a six-yard touchdown.
Louisiana answered and did so in spectacular fashion.
After Smith lost two yards on the ensuing kickoff, the Ragin’ Cajuns began the drive at their own one-yard line. Lewis handed the ball off to Montrell Johnson who took it 99 yards for a touchdown.
Arkansas State would put together a 10-play, 66-play drive before halftime and capped it with a 32-yard field goal by Blake Grupe.
Louisiana responded with a quick scoring drive as Smith scored on a six-yard touchdown run.
Arkansas State opened up the second half retaking the lead.
After a four-yard run by Pare, Hatcher threw a pass to Te’Vailance Hunt for a 76-yard touchdown.
Louisiana quickly answered as Lewis marched the Ragin’ Cajuns down the field, highlighted by a 39-yard pass to Dontae Fleming, and capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Johnson.
After being forced to punt, Arkansas State’s defense got the ball back after recovering a Chris Smith fumble. The Red Wolves needed only three plays to find the end zone as Hatcher connected with Emmanual Stevenson for a 15-yard touchdown.
Arkansas State’s defense stepped up yet again later in the third.
The Red Wolves’ Kenneth Harris picked off a pass intended for Jalen Williams. Arkansas State turned that turnover into three points as Grupe made a 35-yard field goal.
With little more than three minutes left in the third quarter, Arkansas State led 27-21.
That lead proved to be short lived as Louisiana responded with a 74-yard touchdown run by Smith.
Arkansas State would only get one drive in the final quarter which ended in a punt. Louisiana then capped the victory with a 20-play, 90-yard drive that allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to run out the clock.
BIG NUMBER I: 20
The Ragin’ Cajuns were unable to produced lengthy drives in Thursday night’s game with nine drives with nine plays or less. The team’s final drive though was the most impressive one of the night. Louisiana put together a 20-play, 90-yard drive that ate the final 10:26 of the game clock.
BIG NUMBER II: 424
The Ragin’ Cajuns ran all over the Red Wolves as Louisiana had 424 rushing yards and averaged eight yards per carry.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: CHRIS SMITH
The Ragin’ Cajuns running back had a monster game with 238 rushing yards on 24 carries, averaging 9.9 yards per game, and scored two rushing touchdowns.
UP NEXT: Louisiana (6-1, 4-0 SBC) returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 30 for homecoming against Texas State. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m.