Levi Lewis, defense produce for Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football vs Appalachian State
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Oct. 12, 2021
Running back Chris Smith ran for two touchdowns, quarterback Levi Lewis threw for one and ran for one, and Montrell Johnson Jr. and Emani Bailey both had second-half TD runs as UL remained undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play with a 41-13 win over Appalachian State on Tuesday night at Cajun Field.
UL (5-1, 3-0 Sun Belt) extended its 20-6 halftime lead over App State (4-2, 1-1 Sun Belt) with a 21-yard Smith touchdown run that followed an interception by cornerback Eric Garror early in the third quarter.
The Mountaineers answered with a 7-yard Chase Brice TD run later in the third quarter, but Montrell Johnson Jr. helped make it 34-13 after a 2-yard touchdown run that capped a 98-yard drive with 10 minutes and 38 seconds left.
But Johnson ran in 2 yards out and, after UL fumble recovery, Emani Bailey added a a 26-yard TD run with 8:16 to go.
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UL took a 20-3 lead behind its highest-scoring first quarter of the season, getting a 3-yard Lewis touchdown scramble to start, a 2-yard Lewis TD pass to Kyren Lacy and a 1-yard Smith touchdown run.
Lewis finished 15-of-25 for 20
Attendance was announced at 20,066.
UL creates turnovers
The Cajuns’ defense, much-maligned at times this season, proved it can create some turnovers after all.
Smith’s first-quarter touchdown run came four plays after safety Percy Butler recovered a Brice fumble caused by a Zi’Yon Hill sack. Before the first half was done, nickel back Brandon Bishop intercepted a Brice pass that deflected off the hands of receiver Malik Williams.
The interception by Garror gave UL three forced turnovers, matching its season total. Going into Tuesday, UL had just two interceptions and one fumble recovery in its first five games combined.
Linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill made it four takeaways for the Cajuns with a fourth-quarter fumble recovery that led to the Bailey TD.
The long ball
The Cajuns really can go deep this season.
UL used a steady dose of Smith and Bailey on its opening eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, but it was a 55-yard pass over the top from Lewis to Lacy that produced the drive’s biggest gain.
Lewis later hit Alabama State transfer Michael Jefferson over the top with a 36-yarder.
It’s further evidence UL’s emphasis on the long ball this past offseason was time well spent. Already this year Lewis has connected on deep balls – each going for at least 46 yards – with Peter LeBlanc, Dontae Fleming, Jefferson and Lacy.
UL running backs were productive
Johnson, a freshman, had 103 yards on 14 carries, including a long of 36 yards.
Smith had another productive outing too, proving his worth as UL's No. 1 back. He finished with 82 yards and the two TDs on 13 carries.
Smith had a 68-yard game on 10 rushes in a win over Ohio earlier this season and 54 yards with one touchdown on 11 carries in a season-opening loss at Texas.
Cajun kicking issues
UL’s kicking troubles aren’t done yet.
But Snyder missed his third, giving him two failed PATs and two missed field goal attempts since replacing Kenneth Almendares, who suffered a season-ending injury on Sept. 25.