Louisiana Dominates Appalachian State 41-13
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns put together a complete performance against the Appalachian State Mountaineers, earning their fifth consecutive win with a dominant 41-13 victory at Cajun Field on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Cajuns are now 5-1 overall and 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Louisiana lost the coin toss and received the ball first. Starting quarterback Levi Lewis opened the game with a beautiful 55-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Kyren Lacy to set the Cajuns up in the red zone. On third and goal, Lewis ran in from four yards out for the opening touchdown of the game to put Louisiana in front 7-0 early.
App State's opening drive was an impressive response. The Mountaineers went 62 yards in 10 plays, but a false start helped stall the possession in the red zone. App State settled for a 31-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
The Cajuns big-play offense continued rolling on their second drive. After being pinned at their own 13 yard-line, freshman running back Montrell Johnson burst through a hole for 36 yards. On the very next play, Lewis connected with wide receiver Michael Jefferson for another 36-yard gain.
On third-and-10 at the App State 15 yard-line, a defensive pass interference erased an incompletion and set Louisiana up with first-and-goal. Lewis took advantage with a two-yard touchdown pass to Lacy to cap off a seven-play, 87-yard drive and increase their lead to 14-3.
The Louisiana defense recovered a fumble by the Mountaineers quarterback on third down, and the Cajuns offense started their third drive with great field position. Chris Smith rolled in from one yard out for his first touchdown of the night, and Louisiana's offense finished their third drive with their third touchdown in the first quarter. The extra point was no good, but the Cajuns had a 20-3 lead.
Both teams exchanged three-and-outs to start the second quarter. Louisiana defensive back Brandon Bishop intercepted a tipped ball to give the Cajuns their second turnover of the night.
On their next drive, the Cajuns took their time, executing a fourth down conversion and driving to the red zone for the fourth time. However, an interception in the end zone on third-and-goal ended a promising drive. The 13-play, 55-yard drive that that took over seven minutes off the clock ended without points and App State had a final chance to score in the first half.
The Mountaineers offense went 70 yards on nine plays, but the Louisiana defense got another third down stop in the red zone to hold them to a 27-yard field goal. The Cajuns went into halftime with a 20-6 lead.
Head coach Billy Napier was happy with the first half performance by his defense but recognized the missed opportunity with Lewis' interception in the red zone.
"We missed a momentum opportunity with the interception," Napier said. "We are playing good defense right now by forcing field goals in the red area."
The start of the second half was perfect for the Cajuns.
App State started the third quarter with the ball, but, three plays into their drive, Louisiana defensive back Eric Garror came away with an interception. It was the Cajuns third defensive turnover of the game.
Two plays later, Smith ran for a 21-yard touchdown, and Louisiana increased their lead to 27-6.
On App State's next drive, they converted two fourth downs on a 12-play, 51-yard touchdown drive. Their first touchdown of the night dug into the Cajuns lead and brought it to 27-13 halfway through the third quarter.
The Louisiana offense went three-and-out on their next possession, and the Mountaineers had a chance to make it a one-score game.
Assisted by a generous spot on fourth-and-1 near midfield, the Mountaineers offense continued driving. However, a sack by junior linebacker Kris Moncrief wrecked the drive, and App State punted. The ball went out of bounds at Louisiana's two yard-line, and they were pinned deep for their third possession of the second half.
On this drive, the Cajuns rushing attack and offensive line started taking over. A big 26-yard rush by Johnson helped get Louisiana near midfield. Chris Smith then ripped off runs of 11 and 13 yards to get the Cajuns deep into Mountaineers territory.
On fourth down in the red zone, Lewis got the App State defensive line to jump offsides to give the Cajuns a first-and-goal. From there, Johnson punched it in from two yards out. It capped off a 13-play, 98-yard touchdown drive where the offensive line and rushing attack dominated the Mountaineers defense. Louisiana extended their lead to 34-13.
On the first play of App State's next drive, linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill recovered a fumble, and Louisiana's defense had their fourth turnover of the game.
Four plays later, freshman running back Emani Bailey shot through a hole for a 26-yard touchdown run. Louisiana's lead ballooned to 28 points at 41-13.
App State went three-and-out and elected to punt with less than seven minutes remaining in the game, and Louisiana went to their backups with about three minutes left.
They ran out the clock and improved to 5-1 and 3-0 in Sun Belt play with the 41-13 win.
One of the biggest stats of this game was conversions on third down. Louisiana was 8-15 on third down while App State was 0-11. The Cajuns also forced four turnovers by the Mountaineers offense and the rushing attack finished with 246 total yards on 44 carries. It was an all-around dominant performance by every measure.
Up next, Louisiana travels to face Arkansas State on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m.