Football: Season in review: 2014 was roller coaster ride for UL
The Advertiser, December 14, 2014
Aug. 30 – Cajun Field – UL 45, Southern U. 6
•Overview: A season filled with high expectations got off to a business-like start with a 39-point victory over the Southern Jaguars. The Cajuns’ offense was steady, although not spectacular, in the win, scoring in each quarter and putting up 512 total yards behind a balanced attack with 248 rushing and 264 in the air.
•Top player: Wide receiver Jamal Robinson was a huge part of the early-season hype and he showed why right away with five receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win.
•Big play: One of Robinson’s five catches was a 32-yard scoring reception from quarterback Terrance Broadway, where the Salmen High product went up high for the catch to end a four-play, 43-yard scoring drive to give UL a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter at the time.
•Lagniappe: While the Cajuns got the easy win, there was one facet of the game that would soon rear its ugly head far too often throughout September. UL turned it over with two interceptions in the win, and didn’t force any turnovers.
Sept. 6 – Cajun Field – Louisiana Tech 48, UL 20
•Overview: By all accounts, old rival Louisiana Tech caught the Cajuns off guard in a big way in this week-two affair. The Cajuns were still hanging around down 17-7 at the half, but the Bulldogs scored twice more in the third quarter to put the game away at 31-7. Tech basically unveiled its new QB Cody Sokol in this surprisingly easy win, going 22-of-32 passing for 295 yards and two scores. As a team, Tech’s offense put up 533 total yards.
•Top player: The Cajuns didn’t do much in the loss, but quarterback Terrance Broadway did rush it 13 times for 82 yards. Defensively, linebacker Trae Johnson posted a team-high nine tackles in the loss.
•Big play: It’s a play that few who saw it won’t soon forget. With the score still 0-0 late in the first period, La. Tech running back Kenneth Dixon exploded for a 99-yard TD run on the first play of the drive for a 7-0 lead. Dixon would finish the win with 184 yards and two scores on just 12 carries..
•Lagniappe: Once again, the most important statistic continued to work against the Cajuns. Tech forced three turnovers, while UL’s defense and special teams produced none for the second straight game. Perhaps the biggest thing, though, was the Jamal Robinson left with a knee injury in the first half and didn‘t return.
Sept. 13 – Oxford, Miss. – Ole Miss 56, UL 15
•Overview: After the La. Tech loss, any hopes of a big rebound for the Cajuns were quickly squashed by a red-hot Ole Miss passing attack. Quarterback Bo Wallace was 23-of-28 passing for 316 yards and four touchdowns. The Rebels led 28-0 midway through the second quarter and the Cajuns never threatened after that.
•Top player: It was a forgettable day for the Cajuns, but the offense did rush for 193 total yards behind a balanced arsenal of Terrance Broadway with 59 yards, Elijah McGuire with 69 yards and Alonzo Harris with 62.
•Big play: Ole Miss defensive back picked off a Broadway pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown to give the Rebels a 42-6 lead with 9:11 left in the third period.
•Lagniappe: The turnover battle didn’t go Cajuns’ way once again with Ole Miss forcing four, but the Cajuns did get their first takeaway of the season with a Sean Thomas interception.
Sept. 20 – Boise, Idaho – Boise State 34, UL 9
•Overview: The Cajuns’ first experience on the blue turf in Idaho didn’t get off to a good start. By the half, the Broncos led 21-3 and were never threatened in the second half. Jay Ajayi rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns for Boise. The true problem for UL in the loss, though, was a lack of punch by the offense, which only had 67 yards rushing and 174 passing.
•Top player: Running back Elijah McGuire was the only Cajun player with a productive stat line, catching 10 passes for 106 yards and carrying the ball seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown.
•Big play: It had nothing to do with the outcome of the game, but UL placekicker Hunter Stover turned in one of the most memorable individual plays of the season. It was a fourth-and-14 from the BSU 21 in the second period. A bad snap on the field goal attempt was scooped up by Stover, who accurately threw a desperation heave to tight end Evan Tatford for a 14-yard completion and a first downs. UL would end up getting a 22-yard field goal from Stover to narrow the gap to 14-3 with 4:20 left until half.
•Lagniappe: The defensive line did begin to show promise with three sacks in the loss. Once again, the defense didn’t force any turnover and UL did throw one interception.
Oct. 4 – Cajun Field – UL 34, Georgia State 31
•Overview: The Cajuns opened up Sun Belt play with a win at home, although it scared many Cajun fans in the process. Jamal Robinson ended a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown catch with 3:34 left to play to give the Cajuns the three-point win. It was a back-and-forth game with a Georgia State team still looking for its first Division I win at the time, and the visitors put up 24 first downs and 425 total yards.
•Top player: Robinson’s return was huge with eight receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Terrance Broadway did hit on 20 of 26 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns.
•Big play: Elijah McGuire ended three games of offensive frustration by busting loose for a 54-yard touchdown run to give the Cajuns an early 7-0 lead over Georgia State.
•Lagniappe: The close call was aided by the fact that UL once again didn’t force any turnovers, neither did the defense produce a sack in the win. Backup quarterback Brooks Haack came off the bench to hit all four of his attempts, including a highlight-film completion to Al Riles on the sidelines for a first down.
Oct. 14 – San Marcos, Texas – UL 34, Texas State 10
•Overview: For the second straight season, Tuesday night proved to be a tonic for the Cajuns, and for that matter, so did playing Texas State. UL seized a 21-3 halftime lead and cruised to a 24-point road victory over Texas State. It was the first time all season the Cajuns won the turnover battle, 2-1 and UL parlayed that into an easy win that seemed to ignite the squad.
•Top player: Terrance Broadway ran for 113 yards on 19 carries and also hit on 14 of 21 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. Elijah McGuire once again got the offense going with a 62-yard touchdown reception to give UL the lead for good in the game.
•Big play: After forcing just one turnover in five games and Texas State lingering around down 7-3 early in the second period, UL’s defense came through with one of the turning-point plays of the season. Trae Johnson’s sack forced a fumble and Christian Ringo returned the recovery 41 yards for a score to give UL a cushion it would ride the rest of the game.
•Lagniappe: While most of this win was what UL needed, Jamal Robinson left the game with a first-half injury for the second time this season. This time, he never returned. He’s currently hoping to earn a medical red-shirt claim out of the season.
Oct. 21 – Cajun Field – UL 55, Arkansas State 40
•Overview: The Cajuns firmly established themselves as prime Sun Belt title contenders with a rushing performance for the ages to improve to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in league play. UL’s offense rushed for 419 yards and eight touchdowns in the Tuesday ESPN2 game that was easily the most prolific big-play game of the season. The Cajuns led 34-9 midway through the second period. Arkansas State did cut it to 48-40 with 1:12 left, but Elijah McGuire quickly ended those comeback dreams with a 54-yard TD run 13 seconds later to ice the victory.
•Top player: McGuire rushed for 265 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries and Alonzo Harris added 107 yards and four more scores on 27 carries.
•Big play: McGuire exploded on a 74-yard touchdown run with 11:19 left in the second period to give the Cajuns a big cushion at 27-9.
•Lagniappe: That name Christian Ringo surfaced in a big way again with six tackles, three stops behind the line and two sacks. Cornerback Corey Trim was another defensive star in the win with seven tackles, two stops behind the line and an interception to set up a short Cajun TD drive.
Nov. 1 – Cajun Field – UL 19, South Alabama 9
•Overview: One game after showing it could win an absolute offensive shootout, the Cajuns proved the could win a defensive slugfest as well to improve to 4-0 in Sun Belt play. It wasn’t that the two defenses completely shut down the opposing offenses. The Cajuns collected 412 total yards and USA did manage 336 yards, but touchdowns were very hard to come by with five total field goals in the game.
•Top player: Christian Ringo was at it again with five tackles, two behind the line, two quarterback sacks, one forced fumble and a QB hurry.
•Big play: Actually, it turned out to be two plays in a three-play series. With the Cajuns only leading 12-9 in the fourth period, UL embarked on a six-play, 91-yard scoring drive that ended in a McGuire 8-yard TD run to ice the victory. First, Terrance Broadway hit Elijah McGuire for a 31-yard gain and two plays later, James Butler hauled in a 40-yard catch to set up the TD run.
•Lagniappe: Hunter Stover made all four of his field goal attempts to provide the bulk of UL’s scoring in the win.
Nov. 8 – Las Cruces, N.M. – UL 44, New Mexico State 16
•Overview: The Cajuns got reminded first hand exactly how easy winning the turnover margin can make a game. UL’s defense got three interceptions and recovered a fumble to enjoy a plus-four game in demolishing the Aggies on the road. Offensively, UL put up a modest total of 402 yards but the short fields contributed to that total.
•Top player: Elijah McGuire rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, taking over the bulk of the carries while the Cajuns tried to rest Alonzo Harris for a game. Terrance Broadway only completed 12 of 23 passes, but it was for 158 yards and three touchdowns.
•Big play: sadfIt perhaps the most unusual play of the season, Corey Trim picked up a blocked extra point and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown for two points to make it 30-9 Cajuns with 9:15 left in the third period.
•Lagniappe: Senior wide receiver James Butler began a late-season surge with five receptions for 95 yards in the win. Freshman Tracy Walker led the defensive surge with two interceptions and Jevante Watson had the other one.
Nov. 15 – Malone Stadium – UL 34, UL Monroe 27
•Overview: This one was the poster child for why it’s important to be able to run the ball. The Cajuns’ defense limited ULM to minus-39 yards rushing, largely due to eight quarterback sacks. Meanwhile, UL’s offense rushed for 282 yards as the Cajuns held off a late ULM charge to improve to 6-0 in Sun Belt play.
•Top player: It was that man Christian Ringo again. The senior defensive tackle continued to dominate the second half of the season with eight tackles, five behind the line, 2.5 sacks and two QB hurries.
•Big play: Speedy freshman Gabe Fuselier displayed why so many are excited about his future by taking a short pass and breaking it up the right sideline for a 36-yard touchdown for a 34-20 cushion with 2:53 left to play.
•Lagniappe: In addition to Ringo’s huge game, Justin Hamilton and Jake Molbert both contributed two sacks to the win. Further showing the difference in the two offenses, ULM attempted 56 passes in the loss compared to just 14 for the Cajuns.
Nov. 22 – Cajun Field – Appalachian St. 35, UL 16
•Overview: For many Cajun fans, this one came out of the nowhere. The Mountaineers did to UL in Cajun Field what the Cajuns typically do to other Sun Belt foes. ASU dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The visitors rushed for 232 yards and put up 427 total, while limiting the Cajuns to 17 first downs, 99 rushing yards and 259 total.
•Top player: Not even normally consistent punter Daniel Cadona had a good game in this one. ASU running back Marcus Cox was the star with 151 yards rushing and two scores on 36 carries.
•Big play: Appalachian State’s Bobo Beathard returned a line drive punt 33 yards for a touchdown to give the visitors a 14-3 halftime lead. The Cajuns would get as close as 14-13 at halftime, but got outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter in the loss.
•Lagniappe: The Cajuns were held to three conversions on third down out of 15 attempts. Amazingly, UL lost at home by 19 points in a game they enjoyed a plus-two turnover ratio.
Nov. 29 – Troy, Ala. – UL 42, Troy 23
•Overview: After a first-half scare that saw Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers hit on all but two of his passes in the first half, the Cajuns dominated the second half to avoid a two-game losing streak heading into the New Orleans Bowl. The Cajuns rushed for 344 yards and put up 486 total to help a defense that struggled early but dominated in the second half in the blowout win.
•Top player: Elijah McGuire rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to spearhead the big rushing day that also included Alonzo Harris with 86 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
•Big play: McGuire did his part in the first-half seesaw battle with a 75-yard touchdown run to give the Cajuns a 21-16 lead with 2:49 left until halftime.
•Lagniappe: Corey Trim led the Cajuns with 10 tackles in the win. As a until, the defense forced two fumbles and yielded 394 total yards, but most of that was in the first half.