Cajuns Storm Back in Second Half to Beat Aggies 49-35
With just over nine minutes to play in the second quarter, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns were behind the eight ball and behind four touchdown underdog New Mexico State 28-7 at Cajun Field.
But the Cajuns got a score before halftime and then showed why they were such a big favorite in the game.
Louisiana outscored NMSU 42-7 after that tough start and defeated the Aggies 49-35 before a homecoming crowd of 30,028 at Cajun Field.
The win makes the Cajuns (6-2) bowl eligible for the third straight season and ran their winning streak to six games, while the Aggies dropped to 1-8.
The Cajuns got a school-tying record five rushing touchdowns from Alonzo Harris, with all five coming after the Aggies had opened up the big lead. Harris' touchdowns came from 2, 6, 5, 3 and 30 yards, giving him twelve rushing touchdowns on the season. Harris went over the 100 yard mark for the second straight game, tallying 106 yards on 16 carries. Freshman
Elijah McGuire added 72 yards, including a 51 yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway competed 14-20 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception. His counterpart, Andrew McDonald, was 24-34 for 327 yards and three scores. Each quarterback was sacked twice. Receiver Austin Franklin was his favorite target, catching 13 passes for 140 yards and two scores.
McDonald got the Aggies on the board first, leading an eleven play, 75 yard drive and scored the touchdown himself from a yard out. NMSU made it 14-0 on its second possession, driving 89 yards in five plays with Franklins catch and run of 65 yards getting the ball in the end zone.
But Louisiana came back on the next play as Broadway hit Daryl Surgent with a 68 yard strike to get the Cajuns within 14-7.
But the Aggies stretched the lead back to 14 points on McDonald's pass to Travaughn Calwell, good for 36 yards to make it a two touchdown margin at the end of the first quarter. Calwell was used as the Wildcat quarterback as well during the game and led the Aggies in rushing with 58 yards on 16 carries.
After forcing a Cajuns punt, NMSU continued its assault with a 67 yard, nine play drive, culminating with a one yard run by Xavier Hall to give New Mexico State its biggest lead at 28-7.
But the Cajuns began their comeback on their next possession, with Harris getting his first touchdown of the night to cap a 61 yards drive in 10 plays to cut the deficit to 28-14 at the break.
Louisiana turned the ball over on the first play of the third quarter on a Broadway fumble, but the Cajuns' defense went to work and forced an Aggie punt. The Cajuns then drove 85 yards in nine plays with Harris scoring from six yards out to cut the lead to 28-20. Passes of 22 yards to Jacob Maxwell and 21 yards to James Butler were the highlights of the drive.
Again the Cajuns forced a punt without allowing a first down and four plays later the Cajuns were back in the end zone with McGuire's scamper from the Cajuns 49 cutting the lead to 28-27 at the end of three quarters.
Again, New Mexico State failed to pick up a first down and on the first play after the NMSU punt, Broadway hit Jamal Robinson with a 44 yard pass to put the Cajuns in the red zone at the Aggies eleven yard line. Three plays later the Cajuns had the lead, with Harris scoring from five yards out. The two point conversion pass to Robinson gave the Cajuns their first lead of the night at 35-28.
The Cajuns' defense, which stymied the Aggies throughout the second half, got a turnover on the next possession, with Tig Barksdale intercepting McDonald's third down pass and returning it to the NMSU three yard line. On the next play, Harris was in the end zone for the fourth time to extend the lead to 42-28.
But the Aggies' defense made a big play of its own as Kawe Johnson intercepted Broadway at the 49 yard line and McDonald found Austin Franklin nine plays later with a seven yard scoring strike to get the Aggies within a touchdown with 2:23 left.
But after an onside kick attempt failed, the Cajuns took over at the NMSU 44 yard line and Harris carried three times to cover the 44 yards, with the touchdown coming from 30 yards out for the final margin.
After allowing 317 yards in the first half, the Cajuns' defense limited the Aggies to just 133 yards in the second half. The Cajuns, meanwhile, after being held to just 174 first half yards, had 266 after intermission.
Louisiana will host Troy in a nationally televised Sun Belt Conference game (ESPNU) Thursday night at Cajun Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm.