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Louisiana Football Staves Off South Alabama, 20-18
Jaguars miss go-ahead 37-yard field goal as Ragin’ Cajuns move to 2-0 in Sun Belt play
10/12/2021 | 6:30 P.M.
KHXT 107.9 FM / ESPN 1420 AM
MOBILE, Ala. – After recording a critical stop in its own territory, Louisiana watched a go-ahead 37-yard field goal off the foot of South Alabama's kicker sail wide right to give the Ragin' Cajuns a thrilling 20-18 road victory over the Jaguars on a rainy Saturday night.
In addition to the late miss, the visiting Ragin' Cajuns (4-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) were aided by a blocked PAT by Kendall Wilkerson and another missed PAT from Jags' kicker.
With the dreary conditions playing a huge factor in the game, Louisiana turned to the run game and picked up 225 yards on the ground, the team's second-highest rushing output of the season.
Running back Emani Bailey led the charge with seven carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, his second of the season, while fellow back Chris Smith carried the ball nine times for 42 yards and score.
Levi Lewis got it done on the ground as well, recording a team-high 10 carries for 61 yards and his first rushing score of the year. Lewis also completed nine passes for 49 yards.
Defensively, Chauncey Manac led the way with seven tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss, and 1.0 sack, with Zi'Yon Hill also adding 2.0 tackles-for-loss and a sack of his own. Ferrod Gardner matched Manac's tackle total with seven.
Smith got the game going with an 87-yard kickoff return and then found the end zone three plays later, bouncing around the outside and leaping over the pile from 10 yards out to put Louisiana ahead 7-0 58 seconds into the game.
Following a strong defensive series, Lewis capped off a four-play, 57-yard drive on the team's next possession with a 22-yard touchdown scamper to double the advantage. Bailey pushed the score to 20-0 with 11:23 in the second quarter, taking a handoff from Lewis and driving through the hole for the touchdown.
Louisiana looked to be in firm control, but South Alabama (3-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) running back Bryan Hill scored with 1:33 in the first half and 4:20 in the third quarter to trim the Ragin' Cajun lead to 20-12.
Jaguar quarterback Jake Bentley, who finished the night 19-of-29 for 243 yards through the air, scored with his legs early in the fourth quarter to trim the lead once again, but the two-point conversion failed to keep the visitor's lead intact at 20-18.
From there, the Ragin' Cajuns' defense stifled any scoring attempt until the Jaguars' unsuccessful field-goal attempt on the final drive.
Louisiana now shifts its attention to its Sun Belt Conference home opener against Appalachian State on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
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