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Football: Ragin' Cajuns Fall 56-10 At No. 16 Mississippi State
STARKVILLE, MISS. – Louisiana Football dropped their first game of the 2018 season, 56-10, to the No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs, Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field, to even out its record at 1-1.
Senior quarterback Andre Nunez finished with a team-high 224 yards on 21 for 29 yards passing with one touchdown in the air. While senior wide receiver Ryheem Malone had 69 yards on seven receptions as Louisiana lost their first road game of the season.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Half): Louisiana won the coin toss and took the ball to start the game, the Cajuns wasted no time marching down the field going 54 yards in 3:12, highlighted by three straight competitions from Nunez to Malone. Louisiana capped off the drive with a 38-yard field goal by senior kicker Kyle Pfau to give Louisiana an early 3-0 lead.
Mississippi State then answered Louisiana's opening drive field goal with back-to-back touchdown scoring drives, both capped off on the ground by Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald's two rushing touchdowns to put the Bulldogs up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs would score touchdowns on all three of their possessions during the second quarter, while Louisiana attempted to convert two fourth downs during the quarter, failing in both attempts, to put the score at 35-3 entering the break.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Half): Mississippi State opened up the second half with two straight touchdown scoring drives, a 26-yard run from Fitzgerald was followed up by a 25-yard Fitzgerald pass to Keith Mixon to put Mississippi State up 49-3.
Louisiana finally stopped Mississippi State's seven consecutive scoring drives to open the game by forcing the Bulldogs to punt near the end of the third quarter, but the Cajuns failure to score during the period meant the score sat at 49-3 entering the final quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter freshman defensive back Eric Garror got his first career interception, making the play at the Mississippi State 47-yard line. The ensuing drive would result in Louisiana's first touchdown of the game on a four-yard pass from Nunez to junior wide receiver Ja'Marcus Bradley to put the score at 49-10.
Another score from Mississippi State in the final five minutes, on a Keytaon Thompson 16-yard rush, ended the scoring for both teams, putting the final score at 56-10.
- Game Captains:
- LaDarrius Kidd (Sr., DL), Bennie Higgins (Jr., DE), Keenan Barnes (Sr., WR), Ja'Marcus Bradley (Jr., WR)
- All four of Louisiana's captains are from Mississippi making it a bit of a homecoming for the four Ragin' Cajuns who led the team onto the field
- Coin Flip Winner:
- Louisiana wins the toss and chooses to receive to start the game
- The Cajuns are now 2-0 on coin flips this season and in both games Louisiana has received the opening kick
- Pfau Nails It
- Pfau's field goal was first of the season for Louisiana and the first for Pfau at Louisiana
- The field goal was the first time Louisiana has opened kicked a field goal in the game's opening drive since beginning the game at Georgia State on Nov. 7, 2015 with a field goal
- It was the first time that the Cajuns have had a field goal on an opening drive (not the first drive of the game but Louisiana's first drive) since kicking a field goal to open its scoring vs. Idaho on Nov. 5, 2016
- First Time's A Charm
- In the fourth quarter, freshman defensive back Eric Garror got his first career interception
- It was Louisiana's first takeaway of the 2018 season
- Still Perfect
- In Louisiana's lone visit to the Red Zone the Cajuns converted, scoring a touchdown, meaning they have remained perfect in the Red Zone so far in 2018 going 8 for 8
- Second Straight Game
- Ja'Marcus Bradley caught a touchdown pass for the second straight game
- Nunez threw for a touchdown pass for the second straight game
- Game Highs
- Junior linebacker Terik Miller led the team in tackles with a career-high eight stops (three solo/one tackle for loss)
- Nunez went 21 for 29, finishing with 224 yards and one touchdown (141.8 QB rating)
- Ragas rushed for 49 yards on seven carries to lead the team on the ground
- Senior wide receiver Ryheem Malone led the team with 69 yards on seven receptions
- Freshman punter Rhys Byrns (in the first real action of his career) punted for 169 yards on four punts to finish with a net average of 42.2 yards. Byrns put two inside the 20 and had a game long of 51 yards
UP NEXT: Louisiana returns to Cajun Field on Saturday, Sept. 22, when they open up Sun Belt Conference play by hosting the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers with kick scheduled for 6 p.m.
FOLLOWING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS: Follow the Ragin' Cajuns on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@RaginCajunsFB) to stay up-to-date with Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Football.
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