LAFAYETTE – Louisiana’s Raymond Calais rushed for a career-high 186 yards on 13 carries, including a school-record 92-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and the Ragin’ Cajuns rushed for a season-high 355 yards to defeat Georgia State, 36-22, in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday at Cajun Field.
Elijah Mitchell gained 136 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown while Andre Nunez completed 14 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a TD as Louisiana (5-5, 3-3 SBC) equaled its win total from 2017 with two games remaining.
Calais, whose 186 yards on the ground marked the second-best performance on the ground by a Cajuns running back in 2018, gave Louisiana a 7-0 lead with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter when he took a handoff from Levi Lewis and raced 92 yards down the left sideline for the first of three TDs on the day.
The junior running back, who broke the previous record (90 yards) set by Reggie Dupre in 1971, added fourth-quarter TDs of 26 and 5 yards as Louisiana scored 20 unanswered points after Georgia State (2-8, 1-5 SBC) closed to within 16-14 on Demarcus Kirk’s 21-yard TD run with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Nunez gave Louisiana a 13-0 lead in the second quarter when he found Ryheem Malone on a 13-yard scoring pass with 11:43 remaining before GSU cut the deficit to 13-7 on Aaron Winchester’s 13-yard TD pass to Devin Gentry to cap a 10-play, 92-yard drive.
Mitchell, who missed Louisiana’s game at Troy last week due to injury, gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 30-14 lead when he scored on a 1-yard plunge to cap a four-play, 63-yard drive. The sophomore opened the drive with a 57-yard run off the left side to the GSU 6 before scoring three plays later.
Louisiana capitalized on Michael Jacquet III’s first career interception on the following drive, going 34 yards in five plays with Calais scoring his career-high third TD with 7:33 remaining.
Zi’Yon Hill and Jacques Boudreaux led a Louisiana defensive effort with a career-high nine stops each with Chauncey Manac registering six stops.
Winchester, who finished 10-for-21 for 121 yards and a TD, added a 3-yard TD run for Georgia State while Tra Bennett rushed for a team-high 82 yards on 15 carries.
Louisiana will return to action on Saturday (Nov. 17) when it hosts South Alabama in the home finale at Cajun Field. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN3.
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- Louisiana improved to 3-0 against Georgia State in series history.
- Louisiana’s 355 yards rushing was the most in a single-game in 2018. The Ragin’ Cajuns rushed for 344 yards against New Mexico State (10/13) and 327 at Texas State (10/6).
- Louisiana is one of two teams in the country (Mississippi State) to have a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game three times this season
- Raymond Calais’ 92-yard scoring run in the first quarter was the longest in Ragin’ Cajuns history. The previous best (90 yards) was by Reggie Dupre against Southeastern Louisiana in 1971.
- Calais’ run was the longest run at Cajun Field breaking Elijah McGuire’s 88-yard touchdown run vs. Northwestern State in 2015.
- Calais’ run was the third longest run by a FBS running back in 2018 and was the longest rush in the Sun Belt Conference this season. The previous high (82 yards) was by Seth Paige of Georgia State against ULM on Sept. 29.
- Calais’ 186 rushing yards marked a career-high and was the second-most by a Ragin’ Cajuns running back in 2018 (191 by Elijah Mitchell at Texas State on Oct. 6).
- Elijah Mitchell gained all 67 yards on a fourth-quarter scoring drive that gave Louisiana a 30-14 lead.
- The 100-yard rushing performances by Calais (186) and Mitchell (136) marked the third time in 2018 a pair of running backs rushed for over 100 yards. Calais (108) and Trey Ragas (103) eclipsed the 100-yard mark against Coastal Carolina with Mitchell (191) and Ragas (100) posting the mark at Texas State.
- Jacques Boudreaux (9 tackles) and Zi’Yon Hill (9 tackles) each posted career-highs in tackles.
- Micheal Jacquet III’s interception in the fourth quarter was the first of his career.
- Calais scored three rushing touchdowns (a career high) and Mitchell added one to give Louisiana four rushing touchdowns in the game.
- Freshman punter Rhys Byrns opened the game with two punts inside the 10-yard line putting the first on the GSU 1 and the second on the Panther 3. It is the first time since Steven Coutts kicked two inside the 10 (both at the 6-yard line) at New Mexico State on Oct. 1, 2016.