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Athletic Hall of Fame: UL Says Thanks To Jake

Athletic Hall of Fame: UL Says Thanks To Jake

Athletic Hall of Fame: UL Says Thanks To Jake

Former Cajuns star named to Hall of Fame

Dan McDonald

Maybe it wasn’t just a coincidence that Jake Delhomme never lost a home-coming game during his UL football career.
When Delhomme wore his now-retired Cajun jersey from 1993-96, the home- coming game was normally the only day-time appearance of the season at Cajun Field.

"We loved playing the four o’clock games," Delhomme said this week. "It seemed like there was always a bigger crowd and we got more fired up for that. It just seemed like there were so many things going on, and there was a lot more excitement."

At Saturday’s home- coming, UL will get the chance to say thanks to its all-time leader in passing and total offense. Delhomme will be one of four former Cajun greats inducted into the UL Athletic Hall of Fame during a noon luncheon and at halftime activities of the 4 p.m. contest.
The early time isn’t as special now, with UL playing all of its home games at 4 p.m. this season. But Saturday’s game could be special, with the Cajuns (4-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) taking a four-game winning streak into a battle against Middle Tennessee (4-3, 3-0).

Delhomme won’t be at Saturday’s activities. He’s a little busy preparing to quarterback the Carolina Panthers in their Sunday night contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but he did send a videotape message and he’ll be represented.

"My mom and dad will be there for everything," Delhomme said. "They’re the ones responsible for whatever success I may have had."

That success with the Panthers has become legend among his legion of south Louisiana fans. Delhomme is in his fourth season in Carolina, including guiding the Panthers to the 2004 Super Bowl. He is approaching all of the Panthers’ career passing records, and has a 5-2 record in postseason play. His 95.0 passer rating is the third-highest in NFL history behind only Joe Montana and Bart Starr.

Playing at home always seemed special for Delhomme, who made his first Cajun Field appearance in the opening game of his natural freshman season. He started the second half of the 1993 opener against Utah State, and started UL’s next 43 games. His record as a starter was 25-18, but at home he finished his career with a stellar 16-3 mark.

"Any time we played at home it was big," Delhomme said. "My freshman year we clinched the conference (the Big West) at home, and of course the A&M game will stick out forever."

Delhomme helped lead the Cajuns to the 29-22 victory over Texas A&M in 1996, a win generally regarded as the biggest in school history and still the only victory over a Division I-A ranked team.

But his most memorable single play didn’t happen at Cajun Field. That one came midway in his junior year, when he and Brandon Stokley turned a desperation fourth-down into a 37-yard touchdown with 2:18 left in a 32-28 victory over Tulane in the Louisiana Superdome.

"It was fourth and nine," Delhomme said. "We were actually looking for Donald (Richard) on a curl just to get the first down, but they (Tulane) set on Donald. Brandon was running free, and he just ran underneath it."

Delhomme’s lob down the hash marks found Stokley in stride for the game-winner.

"All heck broke loose on the sideline," Delhomme said. "Brandon was a freshman, but he got it done."

Beating state teams wasn’t unusual during Delhomme’s career. In his four years, the Cajuns went 6-0 against Louisiana teams – twice against Tulane and four times against La. Tech.

"Not ever losing to someone in the state is something I’ll be proud of forever," he said.

Originally published October 26, 2006