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Football: Hardeway highlights Cajuns’ victory

Hardeway highlights Cajuns’ victory

UL’s comeback 34-24 win at Middle Tennessee Saturday earned two Cajun players some individual honors.

Senior defensive end Rodney Hardeway was named Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the week after his seven-solo-tackle, four-sack performance against the Blue Raiders. Hardeway and junior quarterback Michael Desormeaux were named the state’s defensive and offensive players of the week respectively by the La. Sports Writers Association.

Hardeway, a product of Tyler, Texas, accounted for 34 lost yards on his career-high four sacks, which came after he had three in UL’s first nine games combined. Two of the sacks came in the fourth quarter, part of an effort that held MT to a minus 12 offensive yards in the period, and one was for an 11-yard loss which forced a punt and set up UL’s clinching score.

Hardeway now has 15 career sacks, ranking fifth in UL history, and is six away from the Cajuns’ all-time record of 21 set by Jeff Mitchell from 1992-95.

Desormeaux ran for a career-high 175 yards, his sixth 100-yard game of the season, and went over 1,000 yards for the season on an 86-yard second-quarter scramble. He became the 24th quarterback in NCAA history to top 1,000 rush yards and now has 1,105 yards this season, the third-most in school history.

Desormeaux also passed for 152 yards and two scores, joining Brian Mitchell as the only players to both run and pass for 150 yards in a game. All but 15 of his passing yards came in the second half when the Cajuns finished off their rally from an early 14-point deficit.

Officially young

Through Saturday’s game, UL has played 21 freshmen – seven true freshmen – and 18 sophomores out of 75 players that have seen game action. That means that 52 percent of this year’s participants are underclassmen, the sixth-highest percentage in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) this year.

The only schools with higher underclassmen participation are Temple (47 of 74, 63.5 percent), this week’s opponent Florida International (41 of 67, 61.2), Colorado (34 of 58, 58.6), North Carolina (45 of 80, 56.3) and Notre Dame (37 of 68, 54.4).

"It’s growing pains with these guys, inconsistencies," UL coach Rickey Bustle said. "It’s a great group of young guys, but to say we’re going to play as well next week, I don’t know."

Back up

UL was hit with a sideline interference penalty late in Saturday’s first half, nullifying a 19-yard run by Desormeaux. Side judge Michael Miles ran into Cajun assistant coach Brian Jenkins while running downfield during the play and immediately threw a flag.

"Usually you get a warning on one like that," Bustle said. "He must have run into him pretty hard."

One other call

Bustle questioned one other call moments earlier, that one a pass interference penalty on free safety Gerren Blount in the end zone, a third-and-11 call that gave Middle a first-and-goal at the UL 2.

"I thought that was a questionable call," he said. "Right before the half, that gave them some momentum."

It ended a tough first half for Blount, who had an interception go through his hands on the second play of the second quarter and turn into a 22-yard touchdown pass to Middle’s Taron Henry. Blount, though, got a measure of revenge with 4:35 left when he picked off Raider quarterback Dwight Dasher near midfield and the Cajuns never gave up the ball the rest of the game.


Saturday’s win continued a defensive trend for the Cajuns, who are now 18-8 in Sun Belt play when holding foes under 30 points. UL is 2-17 all time in league play when allowing 30 or more points … Cajun head coach Rickey Bustle, 25-43 overall, holds a 10-9 record in November games in his six years … Five of UL’s first nine opponents played in bowl games last year and four of them are already bowl eligible this year, with five more Cajun foes one win away from bowl eligibility. McNeese State, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) entry and not bowl eligible, is one of five unbeaten teams in the FCS.


Advertiser File Photo

UL defensive end Rodney Hardeway makes a tackle during action against UL Monroe in this 2005 file photo. Hardeway and quarterback Michael Desormeaux were named the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week in the state.