SAN MARCOS, Texas – Louisiana Football (2-3, 1-1 SBC), powered by sophomore running back Elijah Mitchell’s career-high 191 rushing yards, got its first Sun Belt Conference win of the season by dominating on the ground to beat Texas State (1-4, 0-2 SBC), 42-27, in San Marcos, Texas at Bobcat Stadium.
Mitchell’s 191 yards, which is the 14th best performance on the ground in school history, was on 20 carries and he scored three times on the ground, while Ragas added 100 yards on 21 carries and one rushing to help lead the Cajuns powerful ground attack. In the air senior quarterback Andre Nunez led Louisiana with 149 yards in the air on 9-for-18 passing adding a touchdown while sophomore quarterback Levi Lewis went a perfect 5-for-5 passing for 81 yards and one touchdown of his own.
HOW IT HAPPENED (First Half): Louisiana opened up the game by getting the ball first but the Ragin’ Cajuns went three-and-out. On the punt, freshman punter Rhys Byrns was nailed after sending the kick for a roughing the kicker penalty on Texas State.
Louisiana could not capitalize, going three-and-out yet again and it set off a stretch over the next eight minutes where both teams traded possessions, including Nunez throwing an interception. But the Cajuns’ offense began to gain traction on the ground, and so did its defense, with Louisiana scoring the next four times they touched the ball in the half.
Nunez sparked things, bouncing back from the interception, with a 34-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley, where Bradley went up and caught the ball between two defenders. Louisiana then got on the board with an eight play 60-yard drive capped off by Trey Ragas’ 1-yard scamper off the right side. Louisiana’s defense then began to bring the pressure on the next drive, with sophomore Chauncey Manac getting his second sack of the season which led to Louisiana getting the back with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
The Cajuns took the ball began to storm down the field in the final two minutes of the period, with Nunez’s sideline toss to junior running back Raymond Calais, where Calais tip-toed down the sideline to stay in bounds, going 45 yards to get Louisiana inside the red zone. Mitchell began the second quarter with a 13-yard touchdown run to put Louisiana up 14-0 and it capped off a 76-yard five play drive.
Louisiana’s defense continued to dominate Texas State through the quarter, causing Texas State to punt two out of its three possessions during the second quarter, with the half coming being the only time Texas State did not punt. The Cajuns held the Bobcats off the score board throughout the half, making it the first time they have done that in four years.
Offensively, Louisiana did not slow down as the second quarter began, instead, they hit the turbo button, as Louisiana continued its torrid pace on the ground scoring two more times in the quarter, both on 11-play drives powered by the ground game. Lewis came into the game and immediately took the Cajuns down the field on a 61-yard drive that he capped off himself, with a three-yard touchdown pass to Bradley. During the drive Louisiana rushed the ball nine times, with Ragas and Mitchell carrying the load.
Louisiana’s final drive of the quarter once again resulted in a touchdown, as Mitchell capped off an 11-play 81-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run. The big play on that drive was a 29-yard pass from Nunez to junior wide receiver Jarrod Jackson that pushed Louisiana into Texas State territory.
The Cajuns owned the first half on the ground, finishing with 193 yards on the ground with Mitchell finishing the half with a team-high 95 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, while Ragas was right behind him finishing with 79 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.
HOW IT HAPPENED (Second Half): Louisiana’s first drive of the second half was a three-and-out and on the ensuing punt Texas State’s Hutch White took it back 27 yards to the Louisiana 36-yard line to set up the Bobcats in Louisiana territory. The Bobcats then struck fast, with Tyler Vitt hitting Jeremiah Haydel for a 36-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive to get on the scoreboard for the first time in the game making the score 28-6.
The next time Texas State touched the ball, following a Louisiana punt, the Bobcats continued to cut into the Cajuns lead going 77 yards on six plays to score a touchdown and bring the score to 28-13. Texas State’s touchdown was on a double-reverse pass thrown by White to Vitt from five-yards out to cap off the drive.
But the Cajuns were not about to let Texas State take control of the momentum and in came Lewis who proceed to take Louisiana down the field powered by a deep 37-yard pass from Lewis to Bradley that put Louisiana on the Texas State six-yard line. Mitchell then stormed in from the six, for his third rushing touchdown of the game, to finish off the eight play 88-yard touchdown drive, making it 35-13.
Texas State began the fourth quarter with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Vitt to Keenan Brown finishing a 75-yard seven-play drive to move the score to 35-20.
But Louisiana quickly responded, thanks to a huge run by Mitchell, going 64 yards off the right side to move Louisiana into the red zone yet again. Nunez finished it off with a six-yard touchdown pass to Malone to move the Cajuns back up by 22 points, 42-20.
The Bobcats would not go away, and they continued to score, with the Bobcats scoring on a 75-yard eight-play drive that was capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Vitt to Brown to make it 42-27. Louisiana then stalled on offense and the Bobcats got the ball back with 7:55 remaining in the game.
Texas State then launched one last ditch effort to stay in the game, going 57-yards on 13 plays to get the ball inside the Louisiana five-yard line. But the Cajuns defense dug deep and on fourth-down with just under two minutes to go, Vitt tried to weave his way through the heart of the Cajuns defense, but Louisiana was not fooled, and a gang of Cajuns made the stop to end the Texas State threat.
The Cajuns then ran out the clock to wrap up its first SBC win of the season, 42-27.
– Coin Flip Winner:
– Texas State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Louisiana received the opening kickoff for the first time since its second game at Mississippi State on Sept. 15.
– Top 15 Performance:
– Mitchell’s 191 yards on the ground is the 14th best performance on the ground in Louisiana school history, tying Brian Mitchell’s 191 yards at Tulane on Nov. 1, 1986
– Mitchell’s 191 yards is the most by a Louisiana back since Alonzo Harris ran for 189 yards at Middle Tennessee on Oct. 29, 2011
– Three On The Ground:
– Mitchell scored three rushing touchdowns which is the first time that one member from Louisiana has scored three touchdowns on the ground in one game since Anthony Jennings rushed for three scores at Georgia on Nov. 19, 2016
– 100 Yards For Three Straight:
– Ragas ran for at least 100 yards for the third straight game and he is the first running back to do that for Louisiana since Elijah McGuire had a three-game stretch where he ran for at least 100 yards in 2014
– Double 100-yards On The Ground For The Second Time:
– Mitchell and Ragas both ran for 100-yards making it the second time this season that two Louisiana running backs have run at least 100 yards with Ragas (103 yards) and Calais (109 yards) having done the feat against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 22
– It is the first time since 2014 that Louisiana has had two running backs rush for 100 yards in the same game at least twice in the same season
– Defensive First Half:
– Louisiana’s defense dominated the first half and they took a 28-0 lead into the locker room. It is the biggest lead that Louisiana has taken into the break since a 24-3 lead over ULM on Dec. 3, 2016
– The last time Louisiana shutout an opponent in the first half was against Southern on Aug. 30, 2014 when the Cajuns took a 24-0 lead into the break
– First Half Ground Attack:
– Louisiana finished with 193 rushing yards on 31 carries in the first half, powered by Mitchell’s 95 yards and Ragas’ 79 yards on the ground
– 300-yards On The Ground
– Louisiana finished with 327 rushing yards to rush for over 300 yards in a game for the first time since rushing for 360 yards against Northwestern State on Sept. 12, 2015
– Career Highs:
– Mitchell ran for a career high 191 yards on 20 carries
– Mitchell also scored three rushing touchdowns which is a career high as well
– Mitchell made a career-long 63-yard dash during Louisiana’s second drive of the game
– Calais caught a quick pass from Nunez and scampered down the sideline for a career-long 45-yard reception during the final minute of the first quarter
– A Small Delay:
– The game’s kickoff was delayed for 25 minutes, due to lightning in the area during pregame warmups.
– Game Highs
– Senior Justin Middleton finished with a game-high 11 tackles (ties career-high), the first time any member of the Louisiana defense has had double-digit tackles this season
– Bradley finished with 85 yards and one touchdown receiving
– Nunez led Louisiana with 149 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception on 9-for-18 passing
– Mitchell led the ground attack with 191 yards and three touchdowns
UP NEXT: Louisiana finally returns home for a Homecoming Game matchup with New Mexico State on Saturday, Oct. 13. The game, which has a 6 p.m. kickoff time, will be broadcast on ESPN+.
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