Football: Bird, Alvarez come through kicking for the Cajuns
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, November 22, 2015
Starter Stevie Artigue was hurting, but Ragin’ Cajun reserve kickers Aaron Bird and Carlos Alvarez didn’t know just how much until game.
Playing for the first time since UL’s 2011 New Orleans Bowl win over San Diego State, Alvarez – a senior – handled kickoff chores for UL throughout a 37-34 loss to New Mexico State.
And after Artigue missed a 38-yard field goal attempt in the opening quarter, then barely made his first PAT, Bird – who was making his Cajun debut – took care of extra points and field goals the rest of the way.
“I was really proud of Carlos Alvarez and Aaron Bird, who found out (Saturday) that they were gonna be kicking,” UL coach Mark Hudspeth said.
“Stevie (Artigue) felt like he pulled something on Thursday; didn’t kick (Friday), thought he’d be better (Saturday), and during pregame warmup thought he was better.”
To be safe, though, Alvarez – out for much of the season himself with a hip flexor/groind injury – kicked off all seven times.
The product of West St. Mary High in Baldwin originally joined the Cajuns as a scholarship kicker, left the team for a while, then rejoined the program as a walk-on.
Bird, a former Westgate High quarterback and kicker, redshirted as a freshman walk-on last season.
“He’s really improved as a player,” Hudspeth said, “and came through big-time. … He’s improved as much as anybody on this team.”
Bird was 3-of-3 on PATs, and made both his field goals attempts, one from 23 yards to make it 20-17 NMSU late in the first half and one from 31 yards to it at 20-20 in the third quarter.
He might have had a shot a game-tying field goal in the final minute, but Brooks Haack was intercepted on UL’s final drive of the night.
“I would have loved to have had the chance for our backup kicker to attempt a field goal to tie the game,” Hudspeth said. “That would have been awesome. … I would have loved that opportunity, and, to be honest with you, I believe he would have made it. The kid cares.”
Redshirt freshman Adrian Goodacre started at right guard for UL while usual right guard Donovan Williams at left guard in place of injured Grant Horst (concussion). Horst played later in the game.
The Cajuns started just two defensive linemen (Chris Prather) and went with five defensive backs, with usual cornerback Jevante Watson at safety as expected and Christian Goodlett at nickel back.
Goodlett, a juco-transfer who took over at nickel when outside linebacker Dominique Tovell moved to inside linebacker and former nickel Zachary DeGrange moved to the Sam spot, was making his first Cajun career start.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
The Cajuns held a moment of silence before the game honoring both victims of the recent Paris terrorist massacre and Darrell Allen, the father of NMSU quarterback Andrew Allen.
Darrell Allen, a small-town police chief in Texas, recently was shot and killed while working an off-day security job.
Andrew Allen attended a memorial service for his father in the Houston area on Saturday morning, then joined the Aggies on Saturday afternoon in Lafayette.
Allen came off the bench and finished 13-of-31 for 243 yards and four touchdown throws.
The Cajuns went with three captains – Prather, Jamal Robinson and Effrem Reed – instead of their usual four. … … The first break in the first quarter and first break in the second quarter both lasted three minutes because the Sun Belt oversold adds for its ESPN3 Internet offering of the game. … The NCAA Houston Regional-champion UL baseball team – and coach Tony Robichaux, who notched his 1,000th career win against Alabama last season – was honored on the field during the second quarter.