It was a tale of two halves for the Ragin’ Cajuns football team on Saturday evening: as the game kicked off at 6:00 p.m., the fans attending likely could not have predicted the twists, the turns, and the outcome that would only materialize for good over four-and-a-half hours later.
The Cajuns’ opponent, the Eastern Michigan Eagles, had scored 42 points the week prior, and if they were in any way intimidated by the Cajuns’ 14-game winning streak, they did not show it with their play on the field. This would not have been the first time that the Eagles had given a Sun Belt Conference team fits early in a season; just 11 months ago, they had beaten the Texas State Bobcats 59–21, the most points the program had ever scored in a game. Needless to say, the Cajuns had reasons to take this team seriously, but they did not.
While Eastern Michigan put together a lengthy, well-executed opening drive to score a touchdown on a fourth–and-short pass, Louisiana threw three passes and punted for a grand total of one minute of possession. This trend would continue throughout the first two quarters; the Eagles dominated time of possession, and consequently, the pace of the game. Around the end of the second quarter, though, a nearby lightning strike immediately shut the game down; a 30-minute delay would ensue, and further strikes would extend the downtime to almost an hour. To compensate, the officials decided to play out the remainder of the half and forgo halftime altogether, allowing just a three-minute intermission.
The Cajuns’ defense played the best they could, but taking so many snaps against Michigan’s consistent playcalling led to a 14–0 deficit leading into the second half. After the second half began, the Cajuns’ offense immediately started opening up the offense by taking deep shots downfield, and on the second drive of the half, a 27-yard bomb to senior reciever Michael Jefferson opened the floodgates of what would become seven consecutive touchdown drives and 35 unanswered points from the midway point of the third quarter.
The big offensive plays, and much of the scoring, was dictated by the quarterbacks’ connections with the tight ends. An unbelievable three different Louisiana tight ends caught touchdown passes: senior Johnny Lumpkin; junior Neal Johnson; and junior Pearse Migl all made their scores look effortless with their incredible catching and physicality.
The desperation that this massive scoring run created was apparent in the Eagles’ offense from the first snap they took after the Jefferson touchdown. The previously cool and collected Eagles suddenly seemed hurried, and their mistakes started to cost them. First, a pair of interceptions by junior safeties Brandon Bishop and Kam Pedescleaux; then a fumble just outside the Cajuns’ red zone forced by sophomore safety Courline Flowers; yet another interception secured by junior linebacker Jasper Williams; and finally, another fumble forced by K.C. Ossai gave the Cajuns the ball with under two minutes left in the game.
Another interesting point in the game marked the swapping out of starting quarterback Chandler Fields in favor of junior transfer Ben Wooldridge. Over four separate drives, Wooldridge showed nothing short of excellence, throwing for 169 yards and two touchdowns with near-perfect efficiency.