Cajuns Defeat ULM And Are Western Division Champions
With a chance to go to the inaugural Sun Belt Conference on the line the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns prevailed with a 31-28 win over in-state rival University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks.
There was a lot on the line coming into this game for the Ragin' Cajuns, they had won six straight games in Monroe.
This game started off fast for the Cajuns as they got a score on their first two possessions, a quick strike from Andre Nunez to Ryheem Malone on a screen pass and an 11 play drive that resulted in Ja'Marcus Bradley's 10th touchdown of the season. As the second quarter began the Cajuns held a 14-0 lead.
On the second score for Louisiana, they had to fight through some controversy as the offense got penalized for an illegal formation on the goal line following an Elijah Mitchell touchdown. To add insult to injury head coach Billy Napier was none too pleased with the call and got himself penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Those two penalties backed the Cajuns up to the ULM 20 yard line but that wasn't a problem for Nunez as on the very next play he found Ja'Marcus Bradley for the score.
Much of the first half would be a back and forth affair as the Warhawks would score along with the Cajuns as Andre Nunez would account for three passing touchdowns. However, the biggest play in a first half that was largely dominated by the Cajuns was when Nunez attempted to hit Ryheem Malone on a sideline curl route and he slipped which allowed ULM's defensive back Corey Straughter to not only pick it off but take it to the house for the score.
Louisiana would head into the halftime locker room with a 24-21 lead.
As the third quarter got underway we didn't have any scoring but that didn't mean there was a lack of action as both defenses made big plays.
Cajuns kicker Kyle Pfau missed a 50-yard field goal and from there the Warhawks were on the move down to the UL five-yard line when on 3rd and 5 quarterback Caleb Evans was picked off in the end zone by Michael Jacquet.
Then, Louisiana went for it on 4th and inches and a bad snap allowed the ULM defense to swallow up Nunez short of the line to gain but shortly after that Justin Middleton stripped receiver Markis McCray for a fumble and the recovery.
As the fourth quarter got going is when we started to see some scoring and it started with the Cajuns as Levi Lewis was in at quarterback and he hit Elijah Mitchell on a screen pass and he took it 40 yards for the score. With that touchdown, they increased their lead to 31-21.
However, just when you thought the Cajuns were in good standing score wise ULM quarterback Caleb Evans unleashed a 30-yard dart to Marcus Green for a touchdown.
The Louisiana offense would stall on their next opportunity so with about two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter it would be up to the defense to hold for a title shot and hold they would! The defense bent but didn't break as the Warhawk offense moved the ball inside the Cajun's red zone but a penalty pushed them back and they weren't able to get into the end zone. They would settle for a field goal try with four seconds remaining, Warhawk kicker Craig Ford missed from 39 yards out and the Cajuns were victorious 31-28!
With the win, Louisiana travels to Boone, North Carolina to take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers for the Sun Belt Conference Title next Saturday, December 1st with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m. They improve to 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference.