Cajuns defense comes to life to spoil Idaho’s Homecoming

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MOSCOW, Idaho – Dion Ray and Trey Ragas each scored on a pair of first-half touchdowns and backup quarterback Andre Nunez connected with Ja’Marcus Bradley on a 45-yard scoring pass in the third quarter to help the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns defeat Idaho, 21-16, in a Sun Belt Conference game Saturday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome.

Nunez, who entered the game on the Ragin’ Cajuns third drive of the afternoon, completed 18 of 24 passes for 213 yards and helped Louisiana (2-3, 1-1 SBC) snap a three-game losing streak. Ragas rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries for the Ragin’ Cajuns with Bradley and Ryheem Malone catching five passes each.

Joe Dillon, Trev Miller and Kevon Perry each recorded sacks for the Louisiana defense, which held Idaho (2-3, 1-1 SBC) to 279 yards of total offense and 5-for-17 on third-down opportunities. T.J Posey posted a team-high 11 tackles to lead the Louisiana defense with Jacques Boudreaux posting a season-high eight stops.

Louisiana trailed 7-0 after a 1-yard plunge by Idaho’s DJ Henderson capped a 7-play, 38-yard drive before taking the lead for good on its next two possessions.

Nunez directed the Ragin’ Cajuns on a 7-play 52-yard scoring drive that was capped by Ray’s 3-yard TD off the right side, tying the game with 2:05 remaining in the first quarter. The Ragin’ Cajuns then drove 83 yards in 14 plays with Ragas capping the scoring drive with a 1-yard plunge up the middle.

After Idaho’s Jalen Hoover picked off Nunez at the UL 37, the Vandals were forced to kick a 26-yard field goal by Cade Coffey, cutting Louisiana’s lead to 14-10 with 1:41 remaining in the half.

The Ragin’ Cajuns scored on their opening possession of the second half as Nunez connected with Bradley for 15 yards before finding Chase Rogers for nine yards on third-and-4 to the Idaho 45. One play later, Nunez found Bradley for a deep pass down the right sideline for a 21-10 lead with 12:50 remaining in the third quarter.

Louisiana held Idaho out of the end zone the rest of the way as Coffey kicked field goals of 37 and 46 yards to cut the lead to 21-16.

After Stevie Artigue missed a 48-yard field goal with 4:54 remaining, Idaho drove the ball to the UL 30 before Levarious Varnado broke up a potential scoring pass in the end zone on third down and Joe Dillon forced Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan into a bad throw one play later.

Ragas closed out the game for the Ragin’ Cajuns on the ground, getting runs of 11 and 13 yards as Louisiana ran out the clock and recorded its first SBC road-opening victory since 2014.

Linehan completed 13 of 28 passes for 149 yards for Idaho with Aaron Duckworth leading the Vandals with 62 yards on the ground.

Louisiana will return to action on Thursday (Oct. 12) when it plays host to Texas State in a nationally-televised contest at Cajun Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

The game, which is being presented by DigiTech Office Solutions, is a designated “White Out” game with fans asked to wear white for the game. Special Whiteout T-shirts are on sale at the Ragin’ Cajuns Store on Johnston Street.

• Louisiana’s 14-play, 83-yard scoring drive in the second quarter was its longest in plays and time (6:48) this season. The 83-yard drive was tied for the longest of the season.
• Louisiana recorded a season-high three sacks and held Idaho to 5-for-17 (.294) on third down.
• Nunez completed his first nine passes of the game before being intercepted by Jalen Hoover in the second quarter.
• Louisiana controlled the football for a season-best 30:05.
• Louisiana captured its first SBC road opener since defeating Texas State (34-10) in 2014.
• Sam Geraci’s 61-yard punt in the third quarter was his longest of the season.
• The win marked Louisiana’s first win in the Pacific Time Zone since a 54-37 win over Idaho at Washington State’s Martin Stadium.
• Linebacker Jacques Boudreaux finished with a season-high eight tackles in his second start of the season.
• Louisiana scored a pair of touchdowns after driving into the Idaho red zone, extending its perfect streak on the season to 24-for-24 (22 TDs, 2 FGs)

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