Cajuns Win A Wild One Over The Red Wolves On Senior Day
In the long rivalry between Arkansas State and Louisiana, one thing has been abundantly clear. It's tough to win on the road.
Arkansas State came to Cajun Field winners of six straight and needed a win to clinch at least a tie for the Sun Belt title.
They'll have to wait another week. And, another two years before they can win at Cajun Field.
Needing a win to stay bowl eligible, Louisiana (5-6, 4-3 Sun Belt) defeated Arkansas State 24-19, and leaving the visitors still with just one win at Cajun Field since 1992.
"It was certainly a playoff mentality," said coach Mark Hudspeth. "Our kids left everything on the field. I'm proud of (how) they competed."
The Cajuns' defense, had a goal line stand, an interception return for a touchdown, and survived a bizarre play at the end of the game, one in which the officials called a game winning touchdown for the Red Wolves (6-5, 6-1).
On what looked to be the final play of regulation, on 4th and 10 from the Louisiana 11 yard line with :09 remaining, Red Wolves quarterback Justice Hansen attempted to run for a touchdown. As he was being tackled, he would lateral. An offensive lineman picked it up off one bounce and went into the end zone for what was called as the game winning score, setting off a celebration on the Arkansas State sideline.
However, the play was reviewed, and eventually, reversed. Hansen's knee was down just before the lateral, taking the touchdown off the board and turning the ball over on downs.
Louisiana then took a knee with 2 seconds left, earning their 5th win of the season in emotional fashion.
"I'm so proud of our guys for staying the course," said Hudspeth.
Arkansas State got on the scoreboard first after blocking a Steven Coutts punt, giving the Red Wolves the ball at the LA 47. Hansen's pass to Dijon Paschal from 24 yards out gave A-State a 7-0 lead.
The Cajuns punted on their next possession, but got on the board on the very next play as Hansen's pass was tipped and picked off by Taboris Lee who rumbled 17 yards for the tying score. It was the Cajuns' first defensive touchdown of the season.
The Cajuns' defense came up big again on the next possession as Arkansas State drove to the LA five, but couldn't punch it in the end zone as Joe Dillon and Tre'maine Lightfoot stopped Johnston White at the one yard line on fourth down to keep the Red Wolves off the board.
What followed was a thing of beauty.
Louisiana drove 99 yards in eleven plays, with Anthony Jennings hitting Elijah McGuire on a slant for 14 yards and the score to give the Cajuns a 14-7 lead which they took into the locker room.
Arkansas State got a field goal from 20 yards out from J. D. Houston, but it took just two plays for the Cajuns to come right back as Jennings hit Ja'Marcus Bradley for 42 yards and then found Al Riles, who pulled in Jennings' pass and scored from 34 yards out to give Louisiana a 21-10 lead.
Arkansas State had one more chance in the third quarter but Houston missed a 41 yard field goal attempt. Houston made the next one, however, a 30 yard try on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to eight points.
The Cajuns appeared to have gotten a touchdown as Jennings hit Riles from nine yards out, but Bradley was called for offensive pass interference. The Cajuns settle for a Stevie Artigue field goal from 34 yards away to put the Cajuns up by eleven.
Hansen's 38 yard pass set up Warren Wand's one yard run to cut the lead to five but Hansen's two point pass attempt was dropped, setting up the final drama.
The Cajuns were outgained 521 yards to 292 with Hansen completing 35 of 57 passes for 393 yards. Hansen also led the Red Wolves in rushing with 47 yards on ten carries.
Jennings completed 13-24 for 242 yards and a pair of scores. He was sacked five times. The Cajuns were held to just 50 net yards rushing.
The biggest stat in the game was Arkansas State getting six trips to the red zone, but scoring on just three. Only one trip resulted in a touchdown. The Cajuns scored on both of their red zone trips.
The victory came on Senior Day and evened the Cajuns' record at home this season to 3-3. They will travel to Monroe to take on ULM next Saturday at 2pm at Malone Stadium. The Warhawks (4-7) had this week off.