Wooldridge ties school-record with five TDs as Ragin’ Cajuns dominate Red Wolves
LAFAYETTE – Quarterback Ben Wooldridge threw for a career-best 316 yards and tied a school-record with five touchdown passes as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns piled up a season-high 522 yards of total offense and defeated Arkansas State, 38-18, in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday at Cajun Field.
Dontae Fleming and Jacob Bernard combined for 11 receptions and three touchdowns as Louisiana (4-3, 2-2 SBC) scored 28 unanswered points in less than a quarter to win its second consecutive game overall and fifth straight against A-State (2-6, 1-4 SBC).
Wooldridge, who set career-highs in completions (21), attempts (34) and long pass (55), connected with 10 different receivers in the game and got the Ragin’ Cajuns offense going on their third possession as he directed a 12-play, 49-yard drive in the opening quarter as Kenneth Almendares’ 43-yard field goal gave Louisiana a 3-0 lead.
The junior signal-caller led Louisiana down the field after the Ragin’ Cajuns defense forced A-State to punt for the third straight time, leading the team on a nine-play, 53-yard scoring drive and a 10-0 lead.
Wooldridge opened the drive with a 15-yard strike to Peter LeBlanc and later connected with Johnny Lumpkin for a 17-yard on third-and-9 to the ASU 9 before Fleming scored two plays later on a 7-yard scoring pass.
Arkansas State, which was held to 271 yards of total offense and went 0-for-11 on third-down opportunities, scored on its next two possessions to cut the lead to 10-9 as Dominic Zvada booted a 43-yard field goal before AJ Mayer led a three-play, 85-yard scoring drive with a 27-yard TD pass to Seydou Traore with 6:28 remaining in the half.
Louisiana, which controlled the football for nearly 38 minutes, regained the momentum on its next drive after the Red Wolves declined a holding penalty after Jacob Kibodi’s 4-yard gain on third-and-10 to the ASU 45. The Ragin’ Cajuns would keep the offense on the field and Wooldridge connected with Bernard over a wide-open middle of the field and the receiver raced untouched to the end zone for his first career TD reception and a 17-9 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns defense would force another Red Wolves punt on the following possession and Wooldridge would engineer an 86-yard drive which was capped by a 55-yard scoring pass to Fleming to up the lead to 24-9.
Wooldridge added TD passes in the third quarter of 36 yards to Michael Jefferson and 13 yards to Neal Johnson before giving way to the freshman tandem of Zeon Chriss and Zy McDonald in the fourth quarter.
Fleming caught a career-high six passes for 81 yards (tying a career-best) for Louisiana with Bernard setting career-highs in receptions (5) and receiving yards (97). Playing without Chris Smith for the second straight game, four rushers carried the bulk of the load for Louisiana with Terrence Williams leading the team with 58 yards on the ground on 11 carries.
Kibodi rushed for 54 yards on 12 attempts for Louisiana, which gained 206 yards on the ground in 50 attempts, with Dre’Lyn Washington setting season-bests in yards (48) and carries (11) while true freshman Zylan Perry rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries.
Jourdon Quibodeaux led Louisiana with eight tackles in the game with Sonny Hazard and Zi’Yon Hill-Green combining for 2.5 sacks. Bralen Trahan, who blocked an extra point attempt in the second quarter, capped off the first half with his third interception of the season – and 12th of his career, tying him with Charles “Peanut” Tillman for fifth place in school history.
Mayer was 8-for-23 for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Arkansas State which dropped its third straight game overall and fifth straight in Lafayette dating back to 2012. Trevian Thomas led all players with 13 tackles with Jaden Harris adding nine.
Louisiana will return to action on Thursday (Oct. 27) when it travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., to face SBC newcomer Southern Miss (4-3, 2-1 SBC) in a nationally-televised contest on ESPN2. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Season tickets for the 2022 campaign are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting Account Manager. For more information call the Louisiana Athletics Box Office at the CAJUNDOME at (337) 265-2104.
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