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Defensive Effort Leads Louisiana Past Jags, 33-20

CAJUNS WIN.jpg
Posted at 8:08 PM, Oct 28, 2023

MOBILE, Ala. –Zeon Chriss completed 13 of 17 passes for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns defense forced five turnovers and recorded five sacks in a 33-20 Sun Belt Conference victory over South Alabama on Saturday at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

Cameron Whitfield forced three fumbles and recorded 3.5 sacks while Tyrone Lewis intercepted a pair of fourth-quarter passes as Louisiana (5-3, 2-2 SBC) led 17-0 at halftime before scoring twice after USA (4-4, 2-2 SBC) cut the lead to 20-14 on La'Damian Webb's 25-yard run in the third quarter.

Louisiana responded on Webb's TD as the Cajuns drove 75 yards in five plays with Jacob Kibodi scoring a 56-yard run up the middle as part of a career-high 119 yards on the ground. The Ragin' Cajuns would force a Jaguar fumble as Whitfield stripped Carter Bradley of the ball and Kendre' Gant scooped it up and ran 55 yards for a touchdown and a 33-14 lead with 1:07 remaining in the third quarter.

After a scoreless first quarter, Louisiana stuffed the Jaguars for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1 at the UL 6 and proceeded to drive 93 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead.

Louisiana benefitted from an offside penalty on fourth-and-3 at the UL 47 before Chriss connected with Jacob Bernard six plays later on a 33-yard scoring pass.

Whitfield and Nijel McGriff combined for the first of two strip-sacks and fumble recoveries as McGriff recovered Bradley's fumble at the UL 41. Seven plays later, Chriss found Neal Johnson in the end zone for a 3-yard scoring pass with Kenneth Almendares' kick giving Louisiana a 14-0 lead with 8:15 left.

Almendares added a 20-yard field goal with 2:10 remaining after the Ragin' Cajuns forced South Alabama to punt, giving Louisiana a 17-0 lead and keeping the Jaguars off the board for a half for the first time since the 2020 season-finale against Troy.

South Alabama, which outscored its opponents 110-10 in the last two games, got on the board with 11:53 left in the third quarter before Almendares gave Louisiana a 20-7 lead with a 42-yard field goal.

The Jaguars drove 89 yards in three plays with Bradley connecting with Caullin Lacy for a 62-yard pass on second-and-7 from the USA 13.

Louisiana gained 348 yards of total offense, including 203 on the ground. Dre'lyn Washington added 52 yards on the ground for the Ragin' Cajuns while Terrance Carter caught a team-high three passes.

Jalen Clark recorded a career-best 10 tackles to lead the Louisiana defense with Gant adding nine stops. Whitfield, who posted the most sacks by a Ragin' Cajuns defender since Chauncey Manac at Liberty in 2021, had seven tackles for Louisiana with Antoine Baylis adding 1.5 sacks.

Bradley went 29-for-49 for 381 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Jaguars. Jamaal Pritchett caught 11 passes for 168 yards for the Jaguars while Webb gained 96 yards on 16 carries on the ground.

Louisiana returns to action on Saturday (Nov. 4) when it travels to face Arkansas State (4-4, 2-2 SBC) in a 2 p.m. contest at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.