The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns came close to victory against Georgia State but couldn’t seal the deal on homecoming night. How would they respond this week against the South Alabama Jaguars?
Initially, things went the Cajuns’ way. Receiving the ball, they went down the field until quarterback Zeon Chriss made a questionable throw under pressure on third down, resulting in an initial punt that was downed at the six-yard line. South Alabama would respond by doing the same.
On the ensuing possession, the run game would be stifled by the Jaguars’ defensive front. South Alabama would quickly gash Louisiana until they were stuffed on fourth and short.
This defensive slugfest would see its first points via a touchdown pass from Chriss to wide receiver Jacob Bernard in the second quarter. The Cajuns took their first lead at 7-0. South Alabama said, “nuh uh” and gave the Cajuns back the ball on a fumble recovered by defensive lineman Nigel McGriff.
Chriss would put on a passing masterclass en route to a second touchdown pass, this time to tight end Neal Johnson Jr. for a 14-0 lead. South Alabama would be forced to punt again, and Louisiana would receive the ultimate gift of a shank to score again off the back of halfback Jacob Kibodi and the leg of Kenneth Almendares to make the score 17-0 entering halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Jaguars quickly advanced down the field and scored to cut the Cajuns lead to 17-7. Louisiana responded by converting another field goal for a 20-7 lead.
The Jaguars responded with two big plays to make the score 20-14. Louisiana wouldn’t be fazed and Kibodi ran it in from 56 yards out, but Almendares missed the extra point to keep the score 26-14.
South Alabama drove down the field but a strip sack by linebacker Cameron Whitfield and score by Kendre’ Gant made the score 33-14.
South Alabama, refusing to quit, quit and punted the ball away to end the third quarter. Louisiana responded by opening the fourth quarter with a drive that stalled out in the middle of the field, letting the Jaguars make it to midfield before Jaguars quarterback Carter Bradley threw an ugly pass and was picked off by Tyrone Lewis Jr.
After the Cajuns went three-and-out, South Alabama went down the field before Bradley threw another pick to Lewis Jr, effectively ending the game.
Five turnovers won the day for Louisiana as well as domination of the time of possession statistic.
The Cajuns’ offense was on the field for roughly 11 minutes longer than the Jaguars offense.
There was also a garbage time touchdown that the Jaguars scored to make the game 33-20, but that was not as relevant to the final outcome: a sound and decisive Cajuns victory.
This is the kind of momentum that the Cajuns can take into next week’s game in Jonesboro, Arkansas against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
The Red Wolves easily dispatched the ULM Warhawks last week, but don’t expect the same result from the better Sun Belt team in the state of Louisiana. The Cajuns are leaps and bounds ahead of the Warhawks and head coach Bret Bielema will have trouble competing with the mind games of Cajuns’ head coach Michael Desormeaux.
If I had to preemptively give the score of the game on Saturday, it would be in the 35-21 range. While the Red Wolves have a decent offense, their defense will bend and break under the intense rushing attack of Louisiana.