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Football: Ragin' Cajuns Open Napier Era With 49-17 Win Over Grambling
LAFAYETTE – The Billy Napier era of Louisiana Football began on Saturday with the homestanding Ragin' Cajuns capturing a 49-17 win over Grambling in front of 28,866 at Cajun Field.
Louisiana (1-0) used a 21-point spurt in the first quarter – over a seven-minute span – to gain separation in the first-ever meeting against Grambling (0-1) and stretched its lead to 35-10 at the break.
Of the seven scoring drives the offense produced, five were accomplished in eight plays or less. Louisiana produced 556 yards of offense and netted 27 first downs. Napier, who was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State and worked at Alabama and Clemson, became the first Ragin' Cajuns coach to win in his opening game since Sam Robertson (a 14-12 win over New Mexico State) in 1980.
LEADING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Quarterback Andre Nunez completed 19-of-his final 20 pass attempts for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding an acrobatic 4-yard TD run near the end of the first half. Ja'Marcus Bradley caught a game-high six passes for the Ragin' Cajuns, scoring on TD receptions of 3 and 8 yards while senior tight end Matt Barnes recorded his first career TD reception on a 19-yard pass from Levi Lewis in the third quarter.
Trey Ragas rushed for 142 yards on 13 carries for Louisiana and gave the Ragin' Cajuns the lead for good on the team's second possession with a 4-yard TD run. Jamal Bell caught an 18-yard scoring pass from Lewis with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter while Raymond Calais would give Louisiana a 49-10 lead after scoring on a 2-yard TD run with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Jacques Boudreaux recorded a team-high four tackles with a sack to lead the Ragin' Cajuns, which held Grambling to 306 yards of total offense.
- Game Captains:
- Andre Nunez (Sr., QB), Ashton Johnson (Jr., RB), Robert Hunt (Jr., OL), Zi'Yon Hill (R-Fr., DL)
- Coin Flip Winner:
- Louisiana wins coin flip and receives
- Career Highs:
- Trey Ragas ran for a career high 142 yards, one touchdown on 13 carries
- Andre Nunez had a career high in completion percentage (86.4% on 19 for 22) and ties career high in touchdown passes with two
- Ja'Marcus Bradley's two touchdown receptions are career highs (finished with six receptions and 70 yards)
- Matt Barnes' touchdown reception is the first of his career, finished with career highs in receptions (3) and receiving yards (38 yards)
- School Record:
- Nunez's 86.4 percent completion rating (19 for 22) is the best completion percentage in a single game in Louisiana history with at least 20 attempts breaking a record that stood for 21 years when Lance Domec went 17 for 20 to finish with a 85.0 completion percentage at Arkansas State on Oct. 4, 1997.
- Completions A Plenty:
- Nunez had 13 straight completions after missing his first pass and that is the best stretch for a Louisiana quarterback since Terrance Broadway began the 2014 RL Carries New Orleans Bowl against Nevada with 14 straight completions.
- It's Been A While:
- Bradley's two touchdown receptions in the first half was the first time a Louisiana receiver caught two TDs in the first half since 2013 when Jamal Robinson caught two against Texas State in the first half on Oct. 5, 2013. It was the first time a Louisiana receiver had two receptions in a game since Robinson did it in 2015 against Texas State on Oct. 10, 2015 (Caught in the 2nd and 3rd quarters)
- Number One for Coach:
- This was Louisiana head coach Billy Napier's first career win in his first game as a head coach. He becomes the 12th head coach in Louisiana history achieve the feat and the first since Sam Robertson won his first game against New Mexico State on Sept. 6, 1980.
- What A Long Drive:
- Louisiana's 98-yard scoring drive (10 plays) that ended in Barnes' first career touchdown reception, is the longest since Louisiana went 99 yards in 11 plays against Arkansas State on Nov. 26, 2016. That drive ended in an Elijah McGuire 14-yard touchdown reception from Anthony Jennings.
- Consecutive Scoring:
- Louisiana scored four touchdowns on four consecutive drives, and that's the first time Louisiana has done that since scoring four against ULM on Sept. 23, 2017.
UP NEXT FOR THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Louisiana enters a bye week then resumes play on Saturday, Sept. 15 in Starkville, Miss., at preseason-ranked No. 18 Mississippi State.
FOLLOW THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Follow the Ragin' Cajuns on Twitter (@RaginCajunsFB), Facebook (/RaginCajunsFootball) or Instagram (@RaginCajunsFB) to stay up-to-date on all that is happening with Louisiana Football.
- #GEAUXCAJUNS -
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