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Ragin Cajuns Upset Arkansas State

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Louisiana upsets Arkansas State 24-19 in Lafayette. .

LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football team withstood a late push from Arkansas State, which included the reversal of a backwards pass recovered for a touchdown, and claimed a 24-19 win over the Sun Belt-leading Red Wolves on Saturday at Cajun Field.

Down to their final play on fourth-and-goal from the Cajuns 11-yard line with nine seconds remaining, ASU quarterback Justice Hansen scrambled toward the sideline and appeared to toss the ball backwards at the 7-yard line where right tackle Joseph Bacchus scooped it up and crossed the goal line for an apparent winning score. However, the replay review revealed that Hansen's knee was down before the toss, voiding the score and securing the triumph for Louisiana.

The Ragin' Cajuns (5-6, 4-3 Sun Belt) kept their bowl game hopes alive with the Senior Day triumph. Arkansas State (6-5, 6-1 Sun Belt) saw its 15-game SBC winning streak halted and missed an opportunity to clinch the conference championship.

Anthony Jennings threw for 242 yards and Ja'Marcus Bradley hauled in 113 yards receiving (first career 100-yard game) to lead the Ragin' Cajuns offense.

The Ragin' Cajuns defense held the Red Wolves in check in the first half, limiting the visitors to 157 yards, allowing the offense time to build its lead. The unit provided the squad's first score when Taboris Lee intercepted a Hansen pass and returned it for a touchdown at 4:52 of the first quarter to even the score at 7-all.

After stuffing ASU on fourth-and-goal in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Louisiana embarked on an 11-play, 99-yard drive, highlighted by a 30-yard reception from Bradley and 14-yard touchdown reception from Elijah McGuire, to pull ahead 14-7 with 8:29 remaining in the opening stanza.

The Ragin' Cajuns defense would hold again in a goal-to-go situation, forcing the Red Wolves into a field goal on their first possession of the second stanza.

A quick, two-play strike followed and increased Louisiana's lead to 21-10 at 8:08 of the third quarter. Jennings lofted a pass to Bradley for a 42-yard gain down to the ASU 34, then connected with Al Riles for a 34-yard score.

ASU started the fourth quarter with a 30-yard field goal make by J.D. Houston to draw within a score at 21-13. Jennings and Bradley teamed up to navigate Louisiana to an answering field goal that returned the lead to double digits. The duo accounted for pass plays of 23 yards and 18 yards that brought the Ragin' Cajuns into Red Wolves' territory.

ASU picked up the final 143 yards of its 521 total yards of offense over the game's final 10:24 as the visitors attempted to erase a 24-13 deficit.

Hansen completed a 38-yard pass to Chris Murray to the UL 1 and Warren Wand reached his arms across the goal line for a score at 9:07 which trimmed the Louisiana lead to 24-19. The Ragin' Cajuns defense would deliver fourth down stops on the additional two drives that the Red Wolves conducted.

Louisiana concludes the regular season, and attempts to obtain bowl eligibility, on Saturday, Dec. 3 at ULM (4-7, 3-4 Sun Belt). The Ragin' Cajuns-Warhawks matchup at JPS Field at Malone Stadium in Monroe is slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff on ESPN3.

• Captains were P Steven Coutts, TE Matt Barnes, DL Rodrick Stephens and DL Jarvis Jeffries.
• The win by Louisiana snapped Arkansas State's 15-game SBC winning streak dating back to 2014.
• Louisiana finished with a 3-3 record at home.
• The Ragin' Cajuns improved to 15-8 all-time against Arkansas State in games played in Lafayette.
• Louisiana improved to 7-1 overall against the Red Wolves in games played in Lafayette since joining the Sun Belt Conference.
• The win was Louisiana's first in a home finale since a 52-30 win over South Alabama on Nov. 24, 2012.
• The win was Louisiana's first at home in the month of November since a 19-9 win over South Alabama (11/1/14) - erasing a four-game losing streak.
• Taboris Lee's 17-yard TD on an interception return was the first defensive TD of the season for the Ragin' Cajuns and the 15th in the Mark Hudspeth era.
• Lee's TD was the first defensive score at home since Justin Anderson returned an interception 58 yards in the 2013 opener against Nicholls State (9/14/13)
• Louisiana's 99-yard drive in the second quarter was the longest of the season by the Ragin' Cajuns and second of 90 yards or more in 2016 (previous high was 92-yard drive at Georgia Southern).
• Anthony Jennings' 242 yards passing was the second-highest total of his career. His two passing TDs were his first since the Texas State game (10/22) and equaled his total in the last six games dating back to New Mexico State (10/1).
• Elijah McGuire's 14-yard TD reception that gave Louisiana a 14-7 lead in the second quarter was the 10th TD reception of his career and his school-record 51st overall TD.
• Ja'Marcus Bradley's 113 yards receiving was a career-high and marked his first career 100-yard game. His 42-yard reception in the third quarter was a season-best.
• With a 34-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, Stevie Artigue moved into sole possession of fourth-place on the school's single-season field goal list with 16.
• Christian Goodlett's 12 tackles were a career-high.