Football: What we learned from No. 21 Cajuns' OT win at Georgia State + Digital & Video Highlights
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Sept. 19, 2020
WHAT WE LEARNED
1. O-LINE NEEDS WORK, BUT MITCHELL FINE
UL’s offensive line admittedly had communication issues in its upset win at Iowa State one week earlier, and it looked as if it experienced some of the same – at least early on – Saturday at Georgia State.
The No. 21 (AP No. 19) Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t think that would be a problem, after losing NFL Draft picks Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson, but it could be a big reason why their rushing game struggled to get off the ground before Elijah Mitchell – who got banged up late at Iowa State – was able to rip off a long game-tying touchdown run in Saturday’s third quarter.
By the time he had another 53-yard gain to set up Trey Ragas’ short go-ahead TD run in the fourth quarter, though, it was apparent senior running back Mitchell, held under 50 yards by the Cylones, was back to his 1,100-plus-yard form from 2018.
He proved it in overtime, too, by delivering the game-winning touchdown run. Mitchell finished with 164 yards and two TDs on 16 carries in a 34-31 win.
2. DEFENSE HAS HOLES
The UL defense looked super at Iowa State, but with the way Georgia State moved on it – especially in Saturday’s first half – it is evident there are some holes that need to be plugged.
Being without standout Jack linebacker Joe Dillon and starting cornerback Asjlin “A.J.” Washington did not help.
But the Cajun defense did at least continue to prove it can create some turnovers. That and a late-game stop on fourth down helped to force overtime.
3. BUTLER FAST
Percy Butler is really fast.
From the way he covered on a punt to how the Plaquemine High product closed on a tackle moving laterally and how he pounced on the ball for a fumble recovery, the UL safety’s speed was evident and on full display on ESPN2 Saturday – and that was in the first quarter alone.
He followed up with more of the same from his post safety spot in the second quarter to help boost the win.
After both sides went for it on fourth down and failed late in regulation, including UL quarterback Levi Lewis taking a sack, a short Noel Ruiz field goal put Georgia State up 31-28 in OT.
But UL rode Mitchell in OT, winning it 34-31 behind his 12-yard scoring run as he bounced outside off the ride side scored standing up behind a big block by tackle Max Mitchell.
Georgia State capitalized on Lewis’ second interception of the day and took a 21-7 lead behind Marcus Carroll’s 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Lewis, though, answered with a 4-yard TD throw to true freshman Kyren Lacy, and Elijah Mitchell soon followed with a 59-yard TD run to help tie it before the period was done.
UL went up behind Ragas’ 2-yard score, but Destin Coates answered with a 4-yard TD run to tie it again.
UL forced a first-quarter turnover as Butler scooped up a loose ball off a big pop from fellow safety Kam Pedescleaux, but the Cajuns failed to take advantage as Nate Snyder missed the ensuing field goal attempt.
Georgia State took advantage and went up 7-0 behind a 12-yard Quad Brown touchdown run late in the opening quarter, and followed with early in the second quarter with a 28-yard TD throw to tight end Roger Carter Jr. to help make it 14-0.
UL got back in it with an 18-yard TD throw from Lewis to running back Chris Smith, but Lewis was intercepted as the Cajuns ran their two-minute offense late in the opening half.
Nine Cajuns were out due to coronavirus COVID-19 issues, including Washington, backup quarterback Jaiave Magalei and true freshman defensive lineman Sonny Hazard. … Mekhi Garner started in Washington’s spot and came up with a second-quarter interception for the Cajuns. … ESPN2 reported that Dillon wasn’t with the team Saturday. No reason was cited. Dillon was listed on UL’s pregame depth chart released Wednesday night. … Backup Tyler Guidry started in Dillon’s usual spot.
BY THE NUMBERS
Georgia State was up 144-67 on UL in total yards on the first quarter. The Cajuns had just 30 rushing yards in the period, 25 of them from Ragas on two carries, one a 21-yarder. … UL made up some ground in the second quarter and total yardage at the half was 243-238 Panthers. … Ragas had just 27 yards on three carries, Lewis 26 on three, Mitchell 18 on six and Smith minus-2 on two for only 69 total UL rushing yards in the opening half.
UL: (2-0,1-0 in the Sun Belt). Georgia State: (0-1,0-1).
UL plays host to Georgia Southern in its 2020 home opener at Cajun Field, 11 a.m. (central) Saturday on ESPN2. Stadium capacity will be capped at 25 percent due to coronavirus COVID-19 concerns.
Georgia State is at Charlotte of Conference USA on Satu