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Football: Cajuns end season 4-8 with loss to Troy

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, December 6, 2015



UL Ragin’ Cajuns wide receiver Gary Haynes (20) is stifled by a host of Troy Trojans defensive players on a run during the second half of an NCAA football game against the Troy Trojans at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015.(Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)


PHOTO GALLERY: UL vs Troy – First Half

PHOTO GALLERY: UL vs. Troy – Second Half


Mark Hudspeth didn’t want it to end this way.

Nineteen outgoing seniors didn’t either.

And a program that until this year had enjoyed four straight 9-4 seasons and four straight New Orleans Bowl wins certainly didn’t want 2015 to close like it did, on a four-game losing streak following a 41-17 loss to Troy on Saturday night at Cajun Field.

“I feel bad for the seniors,” said junior running back Elijah McGuire, who ran for one touchdown, caught a pass for another and went more than 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in his career. “I want to tell them I’m sorry that the season didn’t go as planned.”

UL goes into 2016 on its longest losing skid since dropping seven straight during Rickey Bustle’s final coaching season in 2010, and its longest to finish a season since it lost five in a row under Nelson Stokley in 1997.

The Cajuns go out at 4-8 with consecutive losses to South Alabama, New Mexico State, Appalachian State and Troy, while Troy snapped a two-game losing streak to close 4-8 as well.

The end result for UL: It will go into the offseason like it has no other time under current head coach Hudspeth.

“This is a whole different animal,” Hudspeth said.

“I think you’ve got some angry guys in there that know what we’ve shown in the last few weeks is not who we are. We’re a better team than that. We’ve got to perform better, and we’ve got to coach better, and we’re anxious to accept that challenge.”

UL, playing most of the way under usual No. 3 quarterback Jordan Davis, rallied from 24-0 down in the first quarter to get to within a touchdown at 31-17 midway through the third.

But with Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers going 22-of-28 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, including eight passes to Teddy Ruben for 131 yards and two TDs, that’s as close as the Cajuns would get.

Troy made good on its opening drive, going 76 yards on six plays and capping it with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Silvers to running back Brandon Burks, who ran 25 times for 118 yards to also go over 1,000 rushing.

Troy Trojans wide receiver K.D. Edenfield (13)  is

Troy Trojans wide receiver K.D. Edenfield (13) is tackled by a host of UL Ragin’ Cajuns defensive players during the first half of an NCAA football game at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. (Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)

The Trojans went up 14-0 after Silvers got UL safety Tracy Walker to bite on play action, then lofted a 15-yard TD pass to Ruben with 6:37 left in the first quarter.

“I didn’t play how I was supposed to play,” Walker said, “and the touchdown was the cause of it.”

Troy made it 17-0 on a 39-yard Jed Solomon field goal that came after Montres Kitchens intercepted a Brooks Haack pass that deflected off of Jamal Robinson.

Things got worse for UL as Silvers connected with Ruben on a short pass over the middle that went for a 62-yard TD, helping to put the Trojans up 24-0 with 47 seconds left in the first quarter.

By the end of the period, Troy had 197 yards in total offense and UL had just 26.

“Troy came out with a great scheme,” Walker said. “Their players, they came out and played hard and they executed. We didn’t. That’s what happened.”

The Cajuns got onto the board two minutes into the second quarter, when McGuire ran for an 18-yard touchdown run.

Fifth-year senior Carlos Alvarez added the PAT, marking his career point as a Cajun.

With 35 seconds left in the first half, Alvarez made good on a 41-yarder that was his first career field goal attempt and UL went into the break down 24-10.

The Cajuns got back to within a touchdown when Davis, working on 4th-and-4, threw a 7-yard TD pass to McGuire to cap their first drive of the second half.

But Troy answered less than two minutes later, as Silvers threw a 67-yard TD pass on a screen to Jarvis Bentley.

“We started in a hole a little too deep,” Hudspeth said. “But I’ll tell ya: When we battled back and cut it to 7 points, (I) really felt pretty confident, then was disappointed when we gave up the big screen pass for the touchdown.”

A 21-yard field goal from Solomon with 3:10 left in the third put the Trojans up 34-17, and 39 seconds later it was 41-17 as Davis fumbled and Demetrius Cain ran in with the recovery from 17 yards out.

“We didn’t really take care of the ball this game,” McGuire said after UL lost three fumbles, two by Davis and one by true freshman receiver Gary Haynes, who had a team-high eight catches. “Not only this game, but it was throughout the season. … Taking care of the ball is key.”

Davis, UL’s usual No. 3 quarterback, replaced starter Haack in the first quarter.

“I was real fortunate to get the opportunity to play,” he said.

“I had fun,” Davis added. “Even though it didn’t turn out how we wanted it to turn out, I still had a lot of fun.”

Davis entered as scripted on UL’s fourth and fifth plays of the night, and finished 20-of-34 for 207 yards.

“Jordan exceeded my expectations,” said Hudspeth, who did not commit to quarterback plans for next season. “Knew he was gonna have some growing pains, knew that going in.

“We planned to live with the mistakes, and we had a few of them, yeah. We had a couple of them. But, boy, I’ll tell you: He showed some ability, too — threw the deep ball well, was very accurate … and I thought he threw the ball very efficiently.

“I thought he ran the ball very well too,” Hudspeth added, “so I thought he showed a lot of promise.”