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Football: UL’s backs run wild; McGuire shines in first Cajun Field game

 Chad Washington, Daily Advertiser, September 15, 2013

Pierce discusses his performance against Nicholls ...

Pierce discusses his performance against Nicholls …: UL running back Torrey Pierce discusses his solid performance against Nicholls State, whom the Cajuns defeated 70-7 on Saturday at Cajun Field. Video by Eric Narcisse.

Coming into the season, UL head coach Mark Hudspeth felt one position that the Ragin’ Cajuns were deep at was running back. But the Cajuns were not able to showcase that depth in the first two games.

But on Saturday against Nicholls State, that depth was in full display, and it not only impressive, it was record-breaking.

The Cajuns ran the ball for 481 yards and had eight rushing touchdowns in a 70-7 thrashing of the Colonels that broke the single-game record for points in a game at Cajun Field.

Freshman running back Elijah McGuire ran for 138 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns. Alonzo Harris only had two carries for the game, but one of them was a 65-yard touchdown run on the game’s first drive. His other run was for 10 yards to end the night with 75 yards. In the third quarter, Montrel Carter got into the act by running for 66 yards and touchdown on eight carries.

“I thought the backs were impressive,” Hudspeth said. “I think we were deep at running back and I thought all the guys looked well. I thought Elijah McGuire had a run that I hadn’t seen in a long, long time.”

Sophomore Torrey Pierce got his first start as a UL running back, and also had a strong performance.

He ran 12 times for 74 yards and touchdown runs from 7 and 2 yards out and showed that he can contribute in the Cajuns’ crowded backfield.

“I had to take advantage of it because those opportunities don’t come too often,” Pierce said. “I was blessed that it came around today and just went into the game with the mindset of taking full advantage of the opportunity that I had.”

How strong was the UL running game? By halftime, the Cajuns have racked up 297 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. By the time the game ended, five backs had five or more carries and five had 63 yards or more.

“To all of us as a running back group, it feels good for them to finally get a ground crew the ball,” Harris said. “We’ve been asking them to do it and they finally put faith in us to give it to us, and that’s what happened.”

Pierce said that even though every back wants the ball when they’re name is called, the depth of having three to four backs that can come in and contribute helps keep the other ones fresh and ready to go, especially in the mugginess that is Louisiana.

“Each series we start off with a different back,” Pierce said. “It keeps us from getting fatigued and every time I got in, for sure, I felt like it was my first time getting in. The way the others ran, they ran like it was their first time getting in.”

Pierce, a 5-foot-9 back from River Ridge, was rewarded for a tough week of practice by getting the nod to start this game.

“Torrey is a guy that you can count on every day, and if you can see how he ran tonight, Torrey is one of our top running backs,” Hudspeth said. “He comes to work every day and works awfully hard.

“That’s just a testament to his hard work,” Hudspeth said. “And I was awfully proud that he got the start. That will go down in the record books forever as he started the game.”

While the backs put up the yards, a lot of credit also has to go to the offensive line that opened big holes all game long.

“The offensive line upfront did a great job,” Hudspeth said.

“A lot of that was due because we didn’t have a real complicated game plan, because they were very complicated up front. We wanted to make sure we get good at a couple of things and practice it over and over again all week long.

“And I think it showed with our movement up front with our offensive line and the way our backs ran.”