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Lucky 13! Louisiana Powers Past Marshall In R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, 36-21

Louisiana opens Desormeaux era with impressive win over Thundering Herd

NEW ORLEANS – As one era of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football came to an end, another one started off with an impressive overall performance.

NEW ORLEANS – As one era of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football came to an end, another one started off with an impressive overall performance.
Levi Lewis, playing in his final game in a Louisiana uniform, completed 19 of 31 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown while the No. 16-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns scored three touchdowns in the final 8:20 to claim a 36-21 victory over future Sun Belt Conference member Marshall in the R�L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday at the Caesars Superdome.
In the debut for head coach Michael Desormeaux, Louisiana (No. 16 Associated Press, No. 17 USA Today/AFCA Coaches Poll, No. 23 CFP) won its 13th consecutive game since an Sept. 4 loss at Texas. The 36-year-old Desormeaux joined his predecessor, Billy Napier (2018), and Sam Robertson (1980) as the only Louisiana coaches in the Division I era to win in his debut.
Emani Bailey scored on runs of 4 and 2 yards in the fourth quarter while New Orleans native Montrell Johnson added a 3-yard run as Louisiana (13-1) overcame a 21-16 deficit in its first-ever matchup against Marshall (7-6).
Louisiana scored on its first two possessions to take a 10-0 first-quarter lead as Lewis engineered a 13-play, 81-yard drive on the opening possession with a 9-yard scoring pass to Kyren Lacy before Nate Snyder booted a 42-yard field goal.
Marshall, making its New Orleans Bowl debut and the 21st different school to play in the event, used the legs of running back Rasheen Ali to take a 14-10 lead in the second quarter. Ali, who rushed for 160 yards on 20 carries, scored on a 63-yard run late in the first quarter before giving the Herd a 14-10 lead with his 14-yard TD run around the right side with 10:32 remaining in the half.
Louisiana got a 25-yard field goal from Snyder with 1:28 left in the half to cut Marshall’s lead to 14-13 before Bralen Trahan’s interception helped the Ragin’ Cajuns take a 16-14 lead when Snyder kicked his third field goal of the game – a 24-yarder – at the first-half buzzer.
Ali scored his third TD of the game on a 9-yard run up the middle to cap a 13-play, 63-yard drive and give Marshall a 21-16 lead.
But after forcing Marshall to punt on its first drive of the fourth quarter, Louisiana took control of the game as it controlled the football for 10:11 in the final stanza.
Lewis connected with Michael Jefferson on a 48-yard strike on third-and-13 to the Marshall 12 before Bailey capped the 8-play drive with a 4-yard TD run with 8:20 remaining. The Ragin’ Cajuns defense forced a three-and-out on Marshall’s next possession and immediately drove 73 yards in six plays as Johnson scored on a 3-yard run to put Louisiana ahead, 29-21.
Lewis and Jefferson connected on a 54-yard pass to the Marshall 17 – the only pass thrown by Lewis on the drive.
Another three-and-out by the Thundering Herd led to a 6-play, 52-yard for Louisiana as Bailey scored his second TD of the night – a 2-yard run with 1:41 left.
Bailey led a trio of rushers who had 10 or more carries with 94 yards on 17 attempts. Lewis added 74 yards on 12 carries, including a 55-yard run that set up Snyder’s second field goal of the game. Johnson added 54 yards on 19 carries as Louisiana recorded 498 yards of total offense including 220 on the ground.
Jefferson posted 108 yards on three receptions for Louisiana while Jacob Bernard, who had three receptions for 25 yards entering the game, caught a pair of passes for 59 yards highlighted by a career-long 42-yard grab late in the second quarter.
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• Louisiana won its third straight bowl game and improved to 34-5 overall since the start of the 2019 season.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns improved to 41-5 overall over the last four seasons when scoring 20� points.
• Louisiana improved its official bowl record to 6-3.  
• Louisiana’s current 13-game win streak is tied Cincinnati for the longest win streak among FBS schools.
• Louisiana head coach Michael Desormeaux joined Billy Napier (2018) and Sam Robertson (1980) as the only coaches in the Ragin’ Cajuns Division I era to win in his debut.
• Levi Lewis’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Kyren Lacy marked the sixth time Louisiana scored a TD when receiving the opening kickoff.
• Lewis improved to 35-7 overall as a starting quarterback at Louisiana.
• Lewis set single-game, career-bests in his bowl career in passing yards (270) and pass attempts (31). His 19 completions tied his single-game mark in a bowl game, tying the mark in 2019 at the LendingTree Bowl.
• Lewis, the New Orleans Bowl Most Valuable Player, became the second quarterback in Louisiana history to pass for over 9,000 yards and finished his career with 9,191 yards – 26 yards shy of passing Jake Delhomme (9,216) for the school record.
• Lewis’ 55-yard rush in the second quarter was his third career run of 50� yards and his longest since scoring on a 56-yard TD against Appalachian State in the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Championship game.
• Lewis set UL career bowl records for most pass attempts (86) and passing yards (700), surpassing former Ragin’ Cajuns QB Terrance Broadway (2011-14) in both categories.
• Since an interception against Georgia State on Nov. 4, Lewis recorded his final 142 passes of the season without an interception.
• Louisiana’s 20 points in the fourth quarter was its second 20-point final period of the season, one shy of the 21 points scored in a 49-14 win over Ohio on Sept. 16.
• Louisiana improved to 9-1 when leading after the first quarter and 12-0 when leading at halftime and the end of the third quarter.
• Louisiana captains were Levi Lewis (QB), Lorenzo McCaskill (LB), Kris Moncrief (LB) and Percy Butler (S).
• Bralen Trahan’s interception in the second quarter was his first of the season.
• Jacob Bernard’s­­ 42-yard reception in the second quarter was the longest of his career and his first catch since a 6-yard grab against Nicholls ­­on Sept. 11.
• Nate Snyder’s three field goals tied a personal-career high and tied with former Ragin’ Cajun kickers Brett Baer (2011) and Hunter Stover (2014) for the most by a Louisiana kicker in the New Orleans Bowl.
• Louisiana �15 in turnover ratio in last seven games (1 turnover lost; 16 turnovers forced).
• Montrell Johnson became the first New Orleans native to score a touchdown in the New Orleans Bowl since Danny Wimprine (Memphis in 2003).