LAFAYETTE – Marcus Outlow rushed for 96 yards on 20 carries with a pair of touchdowns and Coastal Carolina withstood a third-quarter rally to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 30-28, in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams on Saturday at Cajun Field.
Backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter completed all five of his attempts for 82 yards and a touchdown after replacing injured starter Kilton Anderson in the third quarter as Coastal Carolina (3-1, 1-0 SBC) claimed the first-ever gridiron meeting between the schools.
After both teams traded punts on its opening possession, Louisiana (1-2, 0-1 SBC) took a 7-0 lead when Trey Ragas capped an eight-play, 79-drive with a 3-yard scoring run with 6:13 remaining in the first quarter. Nunez converted a third-and-15 pass to Earnest Patterson for 20 yards to the CCU 42 before Raymond Calais raced 40 yards to the 2 on the following play.
Coastal cut the lead to 7-3 on its ensuing possession as Massimo Biscardi booted a 50-yard field goal with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter before coming back with a 13-play, 76-yard drive to take a 10-7 lead in the second.
The Chanticleers chewed up over seven minutes on the clock as Outlow capped the drive with a 2-yard run, two plays after converting a fourth-and-2 opportunity with a 3-yard run from the Cajuns 5.
Anderson, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 104 yards in the opening half, gave CCU a 16-7 lead after engineering a four-play, 68-yard scoring drive as he connected with Ky’Jon Tyler on a 31-yard TD pass.
Anderson keyed a four-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half for CCU as his 59-yard rush to the Cajuns 1 helped Outlow score on the following play for a 23-7 lead.
Louisiana erupted for a pair of touchdowns on its next two drives to cut the lead to 23-21 as Elijah Mitchell’s 30-yard TD run in the third quarter capped a six-play, 85-yard drive to cut the lead to 23-14. After the Cajuns forced CCU punt on its next possession, the Cajuns quickly drove 87 yards in three plays as Calais raced the final 61 yards to cut the lead to 23-21 with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
The Ragin’ Cajuns stopped the Chanticleers on their following drive as Deuce Wallace forced a Alex James fumble that Tra’Vontae Booker recovered at the Louisiana 20. But the Cajuns were forced to punt on its next drive and CCU would capitalize to take a 30-21 lead as Carpenter found Isaiah Likely on a 29-yard scoring pass to cap a 10-play, 87-yard drive with 9:08 remaining.
Louisiana would close the gap to 30-28 as Andre Nunez connected with Keenan Barnes on a 15-yard scoring pass with 5:20 remaining, but the Chanticleers would put the game away as Carpenter found Jeremiah Miller on a 15-yard pass on third-and-10 and CCU would eventually run out the clock.
Calais rushed for a career-high 108 yards on five carries to lead Louisiana with Ragas adding 103 yards on 15 attempts. The performance marked the first time two Ragin’ Cajuns rushers eclipsed the 100-yard mark since Elijah McGuire (265 yards) and Alonzo Harris (107 yards) combined for eight touchdowns in a 55-40 contest against Arkansas State in 2014.
Nunez completed 7 of 14 passes for 133 yards for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Garrald McDowell collecting a team-high seven tackles.
Louisiana will return to action on Saturday (Sept. 29) when it travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face No. 1-ranked Alabama. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m., at Bryant-Denny Stadium and will be televised on the SEC Network.
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