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Football: Louisiana Falls To Appalachian State, 30-19, In SBC Championship Game

BOONE, N.C. – Louisiana Football (7-6), fell to the Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-2), 30-19, in the inaugural Sun Belt Conference Championship Game, but the season is far from over as the Ragin' Cajuns will now head to the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 15, in Orlando, Fla.

Sophomore running back Trey Ragas led Louisiana on the ground, finishing with 101 yards rushing on 16 attempts, while senior kicker Kyle Pfau was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals to help Louisiana's offense keep pace with the Mountaineers.

Louisiana's defense was stout all game long holding Appalachian State to 75 yards passing and only allowed 13 first downs in the game.  Seniors Justin Middleton and Corey Turner led the Ragin' Cajuns in tackles each recorded nine stops during the game.

HOW IT HAPPENED (First Half): Louisiana took the opening kickoff and proceeded to drive 55 yards in nine plays and Pfau capped it off with a 37-yard field goal.  But App State responded and on the ensuing kickoff Darrynton Evans went 96 yards, getting tackled at the one-yard line.  On the next play App State cashed in on a one-yard touchdown run by Marcus Williams to go up 7-3.

Both teams traded a handful of possessions through the remainder of the quarter and the game rolled into the second quarter with App State up 7-3.  During Louisiana's first drive of the second quarter, the Ragin' Cajuns cut into App State's lead going 41 yards in 11 plays, with Pfau once again finishing the drive hitting a 45-yard field goal to make it 7-6.

But a 75-yard nine-play drive from App State, capped off by Zac Thomas scoring a 25-yard rushing touchdown, gave App State an answer to Louisiana's previous scoring drive and it put App State back up 14-6.  Both teams traded scoreless possessions and at halftime the score sat at 14-6.

HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Half): App State got a field goal of its own on the first drive of the second half, helped by Evans' 48-yard run, which put App State on Louisiana 27-yard line.  Louisiana's defense dug in after Evans' run and forced App State to settle for the 42-yard field goal putting the score at 17-6.

Louisiana took the ensuing kickoff and junior running back Raymond Calais returned it 61 yards to the App State 36-yard line to set Louisiana up for its first touchdown of the game.  That TD came in the form of senior quarterback Andre Nunez rumbling in from eight yards out to get Louisiana within four points with the score sitting at 17-13.

A big fourth-down stop, at the App State 34-yard line, from Louisiana's defense gave the Ragin' Cajuns good field position and Louisiana converted another field goal, with Pfau nailing one from 23 yards out to get Louisiana within one point.  But App State responded with a 10-play 52-yard drive that was finished with a 42-yard field goal to put App State up 20-16.

The Mountaineers then created the separation they needed in the fourth quarter, scoring on the next two drives that they had, with Thomas running in a 35-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter and Chandler Staton converting a 43-yard field go put App State up for good.  Pfau added a 24-yard field goal in-between the two App State scoring drives, but the Raign' Cajuns could not make up the gap and the Mountaineers came away with the SBC Championship winning 30-19.

- Game Captains:
- Robert Hunt (OL, Jr.), Andre Nunez (QB, Sr.), Corey Turner (Sr., DB), Deuce Wallace (Sr., DB).

- Coin Flip Winner:
- Louisiana won the toss and received the opening kick.  Louisiana is now 7-6 on coin flips this season and has received the opening kick in for the last four games.

- Louisiana Goes Bowling:
- Despite the loss, Louisiana will still go bowling, with its ticket to the AutoNation Cure Bowl punched and the Ragin' Cajuns will wait to see which team from the American Athletic Conference that they will face in the bowl game.

- Ragas Runs For 100...again:
- Ragas finished with 101 yards on 16 carries and that was his seventh 100-yard game this season.
- That is a new school record for 100-yard games by a running back in a single season, breaking the previous record of six set by Tyrell Fenroy in 2006 and 2007.

- Ragas Keeps Racking Up Yards:
- Ragas now has 1,141 yards so far this season, and that is the most by a Louisiana back since Elijah McGuire ran for 1,264 yards in 2014.
- Right now it sits at the fourth-most rushing yards in a single season by a Ragin' Cajuns back.

- Opening With A Score:
- For the third-straight game Louisiana opened the game by scoring on its first drive of the game, when Pfau hit a 37-yard field goal.
- Louisiana kicked a field goal to start against South Alabama (Nov. 17) and the Ragin' Cajuns scored a touchdown to start the game at ULM (Nov. 24).

- Shutting Down The Air:
- Louisiana held App State to 75 yards passing, and that is the least amount of passing yards given up by the Ragin' Cajuns this season.
- The 75 passing yards are the least given up by the Louisiana defense since giving up 75 to Georgia Southern on Nov. 25, 2017.

- Career/Game Highs:
- Middleton and Turner led the team in tackles finishing with nine each.
- Ragas finished with 101 rushing yards on 16 touches.
- Nunez was 10-for-21 finishing with 85 yards passing but he did rush for 18 yards on four carries, scoring a touchdown on the ground.
- Junior Ja'Marcus Bradley led the team in receiving yards finishing with 41 yards on four receptions.
- Pfau was a perfect 4-for-4 and that is a career-high for made field goals in a single game.

UP NEXT: Louisiana will lineup for one final game, when the Ragin' Cajuns head to Orlando, Fla., to play in the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 15 with kick scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT.  Louisiana will play a member of the American Athletic Conference in the game.

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