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Football: Cajun Field crowd lives up to expectations

Predictions of a big attendance at Saturday’s UL-McNeese renewal turned out to be correct.

Announced attendance was 33,828, the third-largest in the history of Cajun Field behind only the 38,783 for the 1996 Texas A&M game and the 36,133 for the 1990 Alabama game. It was the largest in the history of the series, easily surpassing the 25,710 for the 1975 contest in Cajun Field.

The crowd was also the largest home-stadium crowd in Sun Belt Conference history.

Cajun coach Rickey Bustle at once thanked the crowd and apologized for the 38-17 loss.

"Anytime you can get 33,000 in the stadium, that’s good," he said. "I know we disappointed a lot of fans and that’s important, but we also disappointed ourselves."

"This was fantastic," said McNeese coach Matt Viator of the crowd. "Just look around. This is what college football is supposed to be about.”

More in future?

Both coaches were asked about future games between the teams, after Saturday’s first meeting since 1986.

"That’s out of my hands," Viator said. "We appreciate Lafayette playing, and it was great for both teams."

"If you’re going to play a I-AA team," Bustle said, "you want to play it in the state. I’m sure there will be some more games in the future."

UL’s schedule is full with 12 games through the 2009 season, and the Cajuns will only have four opportunities for non-conference games beginning that year when Western Kentucky becomes the ninth Sun Belt football school. The Cajuns are working on a 2009 home contest with Southern, another nearby foe and a I-AA entity.

Turnover party

The Cajuns’ four turnovers in the first half – three interceptions and one fumble – was a season high after UL had only two giveaways in the first two games.

But it wasn’t the first time recently that the Cajuns had that many turnovers in a half. UL had two fumbles and two interceptions in the first half 11 months ago in last season’s 34-20 loss to Middle Tennessee at Cajun Field. The Cajuns wound up with six turnovers in that game, double the amount they had in any other game.

Cajun QB Michael Desormeaux had a streak of 118 pass attempts without an interception, one that dated back to the 2005 season, snapped on Marcus Brown’s interception in the final 90 seconds of the first quarter.

Counting that pick, he had three of his next five passes intercepted.

Jerry Babb had four interceptions last season in that MT game, and also had three in the season finale against UL Monroe.

Block party

Derrick Smith’s block of Blake Bercegeay’s punt with 1:40 left in the first half was UL’s first blocked kick of the season, and kept one streak alive. Since Rickey Bustle became UL’s head coach, the Cajuns have never gone more than five games without blocking a kick.

The blocked punt was UL’s 30th kick block since Bustle took over prior to the 2002 season, and it was Smith’s second of his career. He blocked a punt in 2005 against North Texas.

Injury update

Tailback Tyrell Fenroy suffered an ankle injury in the final five minutes and had to be helped off the field. His status was unknown after the game. Tackle Jesse Newman had a knee injury on the game’s first offensive play but returned later.

Cajun coach Rickey Bustle was involved in a collision late in the first half. A player rolled into him near the sideline and left him with a sore knee.

"He’ll probably be in green for tomorrow’s practice," quipped UL trainer John Porche after tending to Bustle on the sideline, referring to the jerseys worn by injured players during practice.

Long run

The ceremonial game ball for Saturday’s contest arrived approximately 15 minutes before kickoff, thanks to members of the two schools’ Kappa Sigma fraternities.

Continuing a tradition the fraternities began before the series ended, members of the McNeese chapter ran a football from Lake Charles to the Mermentau River. UL’s chapter took the ball there and ran it to Cajun Field.


UL’s captains were Jarrett Jones, Jason Chery, Brent Burkhalter and Connor Morel. McNeese captains were Steven Whitehead, Jamie Leonard, Trey Bennett, Bryant Mason … UL won the toss and took the ball … UL’s first possession of the game started at the Cajun 40, which was better field position than the Cajuns had on all but one of their 13 possessions last Saturday against Ohio … McNeese kicker Blake Bercegeay had a school-record 12 straight field goal streak snapped with a miss from 42 yards early in the second quarter.