Defense locks up homecoming victory for Ragin’ Cajuns
LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns football team evened its record, moving within a win of bowl eligibility, following a 47-34 Homecoming victory over New Mexico State on Saturday at Cajun Field.
Louisiana (5-5, 4-2 Sun Belt) never trailed, responding with a scoring strike both times New Mexico State (4-6, 2-4 Sun Belt) drew even.
Tied at 34-all with 14:19 remaining in the game the Ragin’ Cajuns found a momentum-shifting tally when Jordan Davis fired a strike to Ryheem Malone for the go-ahead score at 10:21. The defense assured there would be no answer, or last-minute rally by the Aggies, by capturing an interception on each of the visitor’s final three possessions.
Louisiana snapped a two-game losing streak in the series with NMSU and secured a winning record at Cajun Field (improved to 3-1) for the first time since 2014.
LEADING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
Davis completed 18-of-31 passes for 203 yards and two touchdown tosses and also added 71 yards and an additional touchdown on the ground.
Malone hauled in 113 yards receiving on seven catches, his highest output in Sun Belt play. Trey Ragas produced a season-high 132 yards rushing on the way to tallying two scores.
Jacques Boudreaux tied Tracy Walker for the team lead with nine tackles and had the game-changing interception late in the fourth quarter that set up the Ragas score that created the final margin.
Kevon Perry notched two sacks in leading the Cajuns defensive line to five total tackles for loss which kept NMSU quarterback Tyler Rogers out of rhythm most of the night resulting in his season-low of just 184 yards passing.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Ragin’ Cajuns got on the board first when Dion Ray capped a 10-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put Louisiana up 7-0 at the 10:46 mark. New Mexico State’s Jason Huntley returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to tie the game at 7-all. The Cajuns regained the lead at the 2:38 mark on a 3-yard connection between Davis and Michael Jacquet. Louisiana outgained the Aggies 147 to -6 in the quarter.
Ragas extended the Ragin’ Cajuns advantage to 21-7 at the 9:20 mark as he ran through a defender on his way to a 31-yard TD. The touchdown was his eighth of the season and his first since Oct. 12.
After New Mexico State picked up a 24-yard field goal by Dylan Brown, Davis added to the lead with 3:33 left in the half on a 43-yard scamper. The Aggies answered with a late TD in the quarter as Larry Rose III capped a 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-17.
NMSU quickly picked up a 29-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Rogers to Rose at the 13:15 mark to cut the lead to 31-24. Following a 28-yard field goal by Stevie Artigue, the visitors pulled within three points on a 7-yard TD rush by Rose at 3:25.
After Brown pulled NMSU into a 34-all tie with a 19-yard field goal with 14:19 left to play, Davis found a wide open Malone for a 33-yard touchdown strike to vault Louisiana back into the lead at 10:21. The defense came up with three interceptions down the stretch – the first by Boudreaux setting up a Ragas touchdown at 5:31 that opened a double-digit lead – to seal the victory.
Louisiana wraps up the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, Nov. 25 facing Georgia Southern (1-9, 1-5 Sun Belt) at Cajun Field. Kickoff for the ESPN3-telecasted contest is set for 4 p.m.
In the first-ever meeting with the Eagles on their home turf, the Ragin’ Cajuns will seek to gain bowl eligibility for the sixth time in seven seasons under head coach Mark Hudspeth.
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