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Football: Conference champs

Football: Conference champs

Football: Conference champs

Bowl trip slips past Cajuns

Dan McDonald

MONROE – For the first time since 1995, the University of Louisiana can lay claim to a winning football season.
And for the first time since 1994, the Ragin’ Cajuns are conference champions.

The UL squad accomplished both of those feats here Saturday and did it in impressive fashion, rolling to a 54-21 victory over in-state rival UL Monroe in the season finale for both teams.

The victory gave UL (6-5) five straight victories to end the season, tied for the nation’s seventh-longest winning streak, and more importantly gave them a share of the Sun Belt Conference title with a 5-2 league record.
"Man, it was exciting," UL student Leah Legere said. "I’m proud to be a Cajun fan tonight. It was such an exciting game. A little rain won’t make us miss a Cajun game."

ULM and Arkansas State also each finished at 5-2, and ASU earned the league’s automatic bid to the Dec. 20 New Orleans Bowl with its 31-24 win at North Texas on Saturday.

But the fact that the Cajuns won’t be playing the bowl game in their home stadium didn’t take much of the luster off a dominating performance Saturday.

"I’ve been here three years, and we didn’t even beat Monroe the last three years," said Cajun junior cornerback Michael Adams. "To win this last game and win the conference championship, I’m ecstatic about it."

"We got those rings – that’s what I wanted," said senior nose guard Michael Moore. "All I wanted to do was finish up with a conference championship."

The Cajuns rushed for 343 yards, their second-highest total of the season, and freshman running back Tyrell Fenroy became UL’s all-time single-season leader among running backs with his 164-yard, three-touchdown effort. He finished the season with 1,053 rushing yards and helped lead the offense to its biggest point production in nearly five seasons.

"We came up here and dominated," student Jay Rebstock said.

"This is the best Cajun game I’ve ever been to," UL student Brandon Fontenot said. "We literally ran all over them."

But the Cajuns’ defense may have been even more of a factor. After ULM (5-6) got touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, UL limited the host Indians to 49 yards over the final three quarters.

"This was a team victory," said Cajun coach Rickey Bustle. "When we were 1-5 a lot of people didn’t think we could do this, but the important thing was our guys believed in themselves and we tried as coaches to make them believe in themselves."

The performance certainly made believers out of a lot more fans and students.

"We had great support,” UL student Blake Cormier said. "The team deserved to win. The crowd was unbelievable. The fans were great. We gave the team what they needed and we had a great time."

"We had total fan support," student Kimmie Lyles said. "It was a lot of fun. I’m so proud of the team. We had more fans there than UL Monroe. I’m just proud of the whole season."

Originally published November 27, 2005