ORLANDO – Louisiana Football pulled within one score of Tulane in the fourth quarter, but could not overcome a deficit created by 24 unanswered first-half points from the Green Wave, who went on to defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns, 41-24, in Orlando, on Saturday afternoon.
The Ragin’ Cajuns found themselves down just 27-24 with 10:16 to play in the game, but two touchdowns by the Green Wave in the span of 43 seconds with under four minutes remaining in the ball game proved to be the difference.
Senior quarterback Andre Nunez finished the game 8-for-17 for 136 yards and a touchdown, while senior wide receiver Ryheem Malone led the receiving corps with 59 yards on three receptions. Sophomore running back Trey Ragas carried the ball 10 times for 40 yards, just ahead of junior running back Raymond Calais, who led the team in total rushing with 41 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Defensively, junior linebacker Ferrod Gardner led the team with eight tackles, followed by seven tackles from senior defensive end Garrald McDowell. Sophomore defensive back Bralen Trahan contributed in a big way as one of six players to record six tackles to compliment an interception that he returned 63 yards.
Louisiana jumped ahead early, marching 37 yards in five plays before Calais broke free down the left side of the field for 38 yards to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 7-0 lead 2:35 into the contest. It was all Tulane for the remainder of the opening quarter after the Green Wave scored 21 unanswered points to take a 14-point advantage after 15 minutes of play.
The defense came up with a big stop late in the first half when Trahan picked off Tulane’s Justin McMillan, Trahan’s first interception of the season, and returned it 63 yards to set up the Ragin’ Cajuns at the Tulane 37. From there, the offense gained 13 yards to set up a 43-yard field goal for senior kicker Kyle Pfau, which he hit to pull Louisiana within 14 points, 24-10, at halftime.
Following a big fourth-down stop on Tulane’s opening drive, the Louisiana offense took over and got going early when Nunez hit Bradley for 26 yards to move into Green Wave territory. Four plays later, sophomore running back Elijah Mitchell found the end zone for the 13th time this season, scoring from three yards out to pull the Cajuns within 24-17.
After Tulane answered with a 26-yard field goal to go ahead 27-17 with 2:58 in the third quarter, Louisiana scored the opening touchdown of the fourth quarter when Nunez connected with junior wide receiver Jarrod Jackson, who overpowered his defender to haul in the 13-yard pass, to cut the Green Wave lead to 27-24 with 10:16 remaining on the clock.
Darius Bradwell extended Tulane’s lead back to 10 points, 34-24, with 3:49 to play in the game when he scored his second touchdown of the game for the Green Wave from four yards out. McMillan secured the game 43 seconds later for Tulane with a 16-yard rushing score to secure the 41-24 victory.
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• Louisiana won the toss and received the opening kick. Louisiana is now 8-6 on coin flips this season and has received the opening kick in for the last five games.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns scored on their opening drive for the fourth-straight game after Calais’ 38-yard touchdown run.
• Raymond Calais notched a 35-yard kickoff return in the opening half, the team’s 14th kick return of at least 30 yards this year.
• Ryheem Malone led the receiving corps with 58 yards on three receptions, including a season-high 47-yard catch in the second half.
• Bralen Trahan recorded his first career interception late in the first half, which he returned 63 yards. Trahnan finished the game with six tackles.