Cajuns’ Defense Stands Tall in Win Over Texas State
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns defense forced three turnovers and held Texas State to just one touchdown as the Cajuns got back to the .500 mark with a 24-7 win over Texas State Thursday night at Cajun Field.
The Cajuns (3-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) used those three turnovers to generate ten points as Louisiana jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and, after the Bobcats (1-6, 0-3) got to within a touchdown in the third quarter, turned the game over to the defense for the final margin.
The Cajuns stopped Texas State after one first down on the opening drive and took just four plays to get into the end zone. Quarterback Andre Nunez, making his first career start, hit Keenan Barnes with passes of 13 and 50 yards to get the ball into the red zone and freshman running back Trey Ragas then had runs of six and eleven yards to put the Cajuns up 7-0 less than five minutes into the first quarter to cap an 80 yard drive.
Two plays later the Cajuns had the ball back as Bennie Higgins forced a Damian Mitchell fumble and Damar'ren Mitchell recovered for the Cajuns at the Texas State 40 yard line. Six plays later Ragas scored from two yards out to give the Cajuns a 14-0 lead. Nunez' 20 yards pass to Ryheem Malone was the big play in the drive.
After an exchange of punts, Texas State started from its own nine yard line and had a 12 play, 61 yard drive to the Cajuns 30. But quarterback Willie Jones was stopped by T. J. Posey on fourth and inches to deny the Bobcats a chance to get points.
Texas State had another opportunity before the half ended and drove from their own eleven yard line to the Cajuns three. Jones hit Hutch White for 18 yards and Elijah King for 40 more during the drive. But on first down, Jones was sacked back to the seven, and after White was stopped for no gain on an end sweep, Tracy Walker stepped in front of a Jones pass at the one yard line for the Cajuns' second turnover of the night and Louisiana went into the locker room with a 14-0 lead.
Texas State finally got on the board with their second possession of the third quarter, driving 89 yards on just seven plays. Jones hit Thurman Mobley with a 49 yard pass and ran for another 20 during the drive, with Anthony D. Taylor scoring from a yard out to cut the Cajuns' lead to 14-7 with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter. But after holding the Cajuns' offense for the third time in the period, Chaziere Malbrue sacked Jones, who fumbled, and Malbrue recovered at the Bobcats' 17 yard line. The third turnover of the night resulted in a Stevie Artigue field goal of 27 yards which gave the Cajuns a ten point lead, 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
Texas State punted on its next possession and the Cajuns, whose offense had been bogged down for two quarters, came to life as Nunez engineers an 83 yard drive in just seven plays. The junior signal caller was 5-5 in the drive good for 75 of those yards, with a perfectly thrown pass into the end zone to Barnes from eight yards out to put the game away.
The Cajuns had an advantage in total yards, 367-325 and outrushed the Bobcats 135-106. Nunez completed 17-27 for 232 yards and a touchdown, while Ragas led the Cajuns on the ground with 72 yards on 19 carries and two scores.
Jones was 12-18 for 197 yards with a fumble and an interception. He was sacked six times by the Cajuns' defense. Jones also led the Bobcats in rushing with 58 yards on 14 carries.
The Cajuns had 12 tackles for loss in the game. Malbrue and Taboris Lee each had a pair of sacks for the Cajuns, while Joe Dillon and Trev Miller had one each.
The Cajuns will be back in action next Thursday night, traveling to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30.