Rising star Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns get over hump against App State

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It was not very long ago that the UL Ragin’ Cajuns were fighting hard but struggling to get over the hump that was Appalachian State for supremacy in the Sun Belt Conference.

Those days are gone.

The latest defining example came Tuesday night at Cajun Field when the Ragin’ Cajuns ripped the Mountaineers 41-13.

The win was the first for UL at home over Appalachian State.

The Cajuns settled the verdict early, jumping out to a 20-3 first quarter lead and were never threatened.

Former Scotlandville star Levi Lewis completed 15-of-29 passes for 209 yards and rushed five times for 16 yards and a touchdown. Lewis shook off an interception.

Former De La Salle star Montrell Johnson continued his outstanding freshman season, rushing 14 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. The performance marked the first 100-yard rushing outing in his young college career.

Chris Smith was solid as well, rushing 13 times for 85 yards and two scores.

Meanwhile, the Cajun defense was outstanding, forcing four turnovers and holding the Mountaineers to just 211 total yards. Ferrod Gardner had seven tackles and an interception.

Louisiana has now beaten Appalachian State two straight times, dating back to last year’s huge 24-21 victory at Boone, N.C.

That victory was huge, ending a stranglehold the Mountaineers had on the Ragin’ Cajuns, having beaten Louisiana eight straight times dating back to 2014.

Louisiana (5-1, 3-0) remained unbeaten in the Sun Belt East Division and will play next Thursday at Arkansas State.

The only loss for the Ragin’ Cajuns came in the season opener at Austin, against nationally ranked Texas in a 38-13 defeat.

Though that was a disappointment, Billy Napier and his squad moved past the setback quickly and decisively, ripping off five straight wins.

Napier is the clear, shining star among FBS coaches in Louisiana.

Ed Orgeron won a national championship at LSU but the Tigers have struggled over the past two seasons.

Willie Fritz has done a good job at Tulane but his team has struggled to a 1-5 mark this season.

Skip Holtz has done a nice job at Louisiana Tech but his team stands at 2-3.

Jason Rollins presides over the Southern program but the Jaguars are 2-3.

Frank Wilson is trying to establish a program at McNeese, currently 1-3.

Brad Laird is 1-4 at Northwestern State.

Terry Bowden has a tough job on his hands at ULM but his program has shown some improvement in year one at 2-3.

Broderick Fobbs has Grambling at 2-4.

As detailed previously, Frank Scelfo is doing a bang-up job at Southeastern Louisiana, with his team at 4-1 and ranked 11th in the nation at the FCS level.

The same is true of Tim Rebowe at Nicholls, despite the Colonels being 2-3, losing a shootout to SLU and falling to a pair of FBS teams.

Napier is now 33-12, including 22-5 in the Sun Belt Conference in his fourth year on the job. His teams have been to three straight bowl games, winning the last two, and are well on the way to a fourth straight bowl appearance.

At just 42, Napier is a rising star in the coaching ranks and should be in high demand.

Napier has great experience as an assistant coach at elite programs in Clemson and Alabama.

When you play games on weeknights, the attention deserved dissipates, unfortunately.

Napier and his Ragin’ Cajuns deserve substantive attention.

Right now, Napier is the star of the Louisiana program, providing great rewards and return on the investment made on him.

Here is hoping that he continues in that role in the future but it would be understandable, make that appropriate, if he attracts attention from prominent FBS programs in the very near future.

Thanks to the recruiting and coaching Napier and his staff have done, the present and future look bright, make that very bright for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

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Ken Trahan


Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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