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Football: Cajuns Fall To ULM In Sun Belt Opener, 56-50 + Brad Kemp Photo Gallery
Louisiana drops SBC opener for first time since 2007
LAFAYETTE – After two overtimes and a 21-point fourth quarter comeback, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns fell just short of winning their Sun Belt Conference opener dropping a disappointing 56-50 decision to ULM, Saturday at Cajun Field.
It was a game of firsts for several Cajuns, with junior Andre Nunez replacing junior Jordan Davis in the second quarter, finishing the game with 287 yards passing, two touchdowns in the air and one on the ground. He was joined by sophomore Jarrod Jackson who saw his first real action hauling in seven passes for 113 yards to lead the Cajuns.
Freshman running back Elijah Mitchell finished with 107 yards rushing and two touchdowns for his first career 100-yard rushing game and first career two-touchdown game.
Fellow freshman running back Trey Ragas added to the Cajuns great night on the ground with 91 yards and one touchdown of his own.
The loss for Louisiana is their third straight and their record falls 1-3 (0-1 SBC), while ULM gets their first win of the season improving their record to 1-2 (1-0 SBC).
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Quarter): Davis started the game at quarterback, as he attempted to muscle his way through an injury he suffered at Texas A&M last weekend, but it was the Warhawk offense that struck first.
After the two teams traded possessions the Cajuns pinned ULM inside the 15-yard line on a great punt from senior Sam Geraci. But ULM took that possession and went 89 yards in 11 plays to get on the board first taking an early 7-0 lead at the 8:00 minute mark.
As the quarter rolled along, ULM put the Cajuns in a tough position when a Warhawk punt placed the Cajuns on their own 1-yard line.
With Davis under the shadow of his own goalposts, the Warhawks brought pressure, forcing Davis to fumble resulting in a ULM safety.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Quarter): ULM again scored quickly taking the ball from the free kick and driving six plays for 59 yards to score their second touchdown of the game to take a 16-0 lead.
Nunez replaced Davis on the following drive and directed a five-play, 75-yard drive with freshman Elijah Mitchell capping the drive with 1-yard TD with 11:21 left in the period.
ULM answered back with a 10-play, 77-yard drive to extend its lead to 23-7 as Alabama transfer Derrick Gore scored on a 2-yard run.
Louisiana smashed back, not letting the Warhawk lead phase them, as the Cajuns hit their stride late in the second quarter to get the score at 23-13 after Mitchell bounced off the right side for 10 yards and his second touchdown of the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Third Quarter): A few non-scoring possessions to start the second half finally came to an end when the Cajuns' junior Stevie Artigue kicked a 20-yard field goal with 5:16 left in the period, cutting the Warhawk lead to 23-16.
ULM struck quickly after that scoring on a four-play, 52-yard drive getting a touchdown to increase their lead to 30-16.
Louisiana, as if taking a page right from the Warhawk book, went 75 yards in seven plays to finish the third quarter with a bang and a touchdown run from sophomore Dion Ray, putting the score at the end of the quarter at 30-22.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Fourth Quarter): Evans scored on TD runs of 5 and 6 yards as ULM pushed their lead to 43-22 with 9:35 left.
The Ragin' Cajuns responded with a 10-play, 83 yard drive as Ragas capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown run off the left side to put the score at 43-29. A three-and-out from the Cajuns defense on the ensuing drive led to a 12-yard scoring pass from Nunez to Jackson, the first TDs for both, cutting the lead to 43-36 with 3:34 remaining.
Once again, the Cajuns defense answered the call, forcing ULM to punt with 2:02 left.
Louisiana drove 84 yards in the final 1:56 with Nunez going 5-for-6 on the drive and finding Ja'Marcus Bradley on a 14-yard pass as time expired.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Overtime): ULM took the ball first and needed five plays to take a 50-43 lead. Louisiana took the ball on their first possession in OT with Nunez capping the drive with a 6-yard scoring run off the left side.
On Louisiana's possession in the second overtime, Calvin Linden missed a 39-yard field goal attempt and ULM needed four plays to reach the end zone as Gore scored on an 8-yard run up the middle.
Nunez finished 22-for-37 in his debut for Louisiana with Jackson and Michael Jacquet caught seven passes each. Ragas gained 91 yards on the ground for the Ragin' Cajuns with Simeon Thomas recording a career-high 11 tackles in his first start of the season.
Louisiana will return to action on Saturday (Oct. 7) when it travels to face Idaho.
Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas:
Click here for game photo gallery by Brad Kemp.
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