The Ragin’ Cajuns made a statement in their 41-13 victory over rival Appalachian State at Cajun Field. The ESPN-televised game gave Louisiana the chance to showcase their talent on a national stage.
Running back Chris Smith stepped up for this offense, rushing for two touchdowns and carving up the Mountaineers defense all evening. Along with Smith taking over, true-freshman star Montrell Johnson continued his exceptional season, punching in a score of his own.
Johnson rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries for the Cajuns, busting open a 36- yard rush to keep this offense in perfect position to succeed.
Offensively, the rushing attack was just about as lethal as it could have been, but star quarterback Levi Lewis again commanded this unit to victory. Going 15-of-25 on his throws for 209 yards set the tone for Coach Billy Napier’s offense.
Lewis continues to rewrite the record books for Louisiana. In his third year starting under center, his poise and understanding of this scheme has this team feeling just about as confident as possible.
Defensively, the Cajuns showed no mercy. Creating turnover after turnover set the tone for this team, totaling two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Star defensive lineman Zi’Yon Hill sacked Appalachian State quarterback Chase Brice early in the first quarter, forcing a fumble and shifting the momentum of the game.
Hill has been an absolute monster for the Cajuns the last two seasons. Putting pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback virtually every snap causes issues for their offense routinely.
Brice, the Mountaineers starting quarterback, has had stints at both Clemson and Duke, but transferred out of both programs shortly after losing the starting quarterback battle at both schools. Turning to Appalachian State to finish out his playing career, the Cajuns humbled him very quickly.
Though the Cajuns played a seemingly flawless game against their conference rival, there is a ton of room for improvement. On special teams, the kicking game needs growth to win close battles after losing starting kicker Kenneth Almendares to a season ending injury on Sept. 25.
Aside from special teams and a few mental mistakes, this Ragin’ Cajuns squad appears to be hitting their stride as they approach the halfway mark of the season. A convincing victory over the Mountaineers and a few more conference battles to end the season, the Cajuns look to be in position to compete for yet another conference championship.
The goal of this Cajuns team is to not only win the conference, but to also play in a major bowl game again this year. Coach Napier has this team about as locked in as ever after a sluggish start to the season.
With growth on both sides of the football and still room for improvement, the sky’s the limit for this Ragin’ Cajuns group. Led by Levi Lewis, the time is now for this team to lock in and finish the season on top.
Story: Zachary Nagy