Louisiana’s Dominant 4th Quarter Seals 36-21 New Orleans Bowl Win
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football team wrapped up a magical 2021 season with a 36-21 New Orleans Bowl victory against the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Louisiana's 2021 season was historic. They won a school-record 13 straight games, an outright Sun Belt Conference Championship, and a New Orleans Bowl trophy.
Head coach Michael Desormeaux was happy to finish the incredible 2021 season with a New Orleans Bowl win for the Ragin' Cajuns.
"This is the way that we needed to finish for this special group," Desormeaux said. "They deserved to go out with a bowl championship win and 13 in a row."
Starting quarterback Levi Lewis was named the bowl game's MVP. He finished his final game of his collegiate career for Louisiana with an excellent performance in the win.
"We've been locked in all season," Lewis said. "It's a special team that got it done."
Lewis completed 19 of his 31 passing attempts for 270 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 12 times for 74 yards in the game.
Marshall won the coin toss, so Louisiana got the ball on offense first. The Cajuns efficiently and methodically drove down the field on a 13-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Lewis hit wide receiver Kyren Lacy for a nine-yard touchdown for the opening score of the game.
In response, Louisiana's defense sacked Marshall's quarterback on the first play of their opening drive, and the Thundering Herd quickly went three-and-out.
Louisiana's offense was very efficient on third down early on, converting their first four opportunities. When they were set up for a fourth-and-inches on their second drive deep in Marshall territory, a defensive penalty set up another first down. They finished off a 13-play drive with a 42-yard field goal by kicker Nate Snyder to make it 10-0.
Marshall responded with a 63-yard touchdown run on the third play of their next drive to cut the lead to 10-7.
Louisiana's time of possession at the end of the first quarter was 13 minutes to the Thundering Herd's two, but their lead was only three points after one.
The Cajuns offense went three-and-out and punted to start the second quarter. Marshall got a first down on their next drive, but it was overturned due to a facemask penalty. They punted, pinning Louisiana's offense deep in their own territory.
Louisiana went three-and-out and punted again. The Thundering Herd ripped off a 32-yard run on their opening play of the next drive. Two plays later, a 14-yard touchdown run gave Marshall a 14-10 lead.
With momentum effectively shifted due to the 14-point swing, the Cajuns offense needed to put a good drive together to respond. Instead, they went three-and-out for the third straight time. After starting out 4-4 on third downs, Louisiana failed five straight conversions.
Louisiana's defense locked up near midfield to force another punt. Lewis shifted the momentum back in the Cajuns favor with a mammoth 55-yard run to get into the red zone.
On fourth-and-goal from the eight, Snyder came out for a 25-yard field goal attempt which he hit to make it 14-13 late in the second quarter.
The Thundering Herd tried to steal points before halftime, but safety Bralen Trahan intercepted a ball and returned it 26 yards into Marshall territory.
On the first play after the pick, Lewis hit wide receiver Jacob Bernard for 42 yards to Marshall's four. However, they couldn't punch it into the end zone. Marshall's coach attempted to ice Snyder twice at the end of the half, but he hit his third field goal in the first half to give the Cajuns a 16-14 lead at the break.
Marshall started the second half by quickly going three-and-out. A few chunk plays by Louisiana's offense, including a pass to Bernard and a big run by Lewis got the Cajuns into the red zone. However, Louisiana went for it on fourth down, and an incompletion turned the ball over on downs.
The Cajuns defense forced a fumble, but, while trying to pick it up and run it in for a score, the ball was kicked out of bounds. The Thundering Herd were still forced to punt, and Louisiana started their next possession with good field position. However, they went three-and-out. It was the Cajuns ninth straight failed third down conversion.
Marshall took the lead with a 13-play, 63-yard touchdown drive where they converted multiple third downs. They made the score 21-16 at the end of the third quarter.
However, Louisiana simply dominated the fourth quarter.
After they punted to start the fourth, a big tackle-for-loss by linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill on third down forced the Thundering Herd to punt.
A 48-yard completion between Lewis and wide receiver Michael Jefferson broke the string of failed third down conversions.
Running back Emani Bailey ran in from four yards out to finish off the drive with a touchdown. The Cajuns had finally put points on the board in the second half, and, even though the two-point conversion failed, Louisiana took a 22-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Louisiana defensive linemen Zi'Yon Hill and Ja-Quane Nelson stuffed Marshall on third-and-one, and the Thundering Herd punted after a three-and-out. The huge stop gave Louisiana's offense the ball back.
Lewis connected with Jefferson on another deep ball. This time it was a 54-yard gain.
Running back Montrell Johnson gashed the Thundering Herd's defense for 11 yards to set up first-and-goal. On third-and-goal from the three, Johnson ran in for the team's second straight rushing touchdown. Snyder's extra-point made it 29-21 with less than four minutes remaining.
Louisiana's defense once again came up huge by forcing a three-and-out.
Bailey buried the Thundering Herd on the Cajuns next offensive possession. The Louisiana running back carried the ball on every play during a six-play, 52-yard touchdown drive. The Cajuns put the game away with Bailey's touchdown run that made it 36-21.
A sack by defensive lineman Andre Jones caused a fumble that Kris Moncrief recovered. Louisiana kneeled out the clock and won the New Orleans Bowl.
Louisiana started off the Desormeaux era with a bowl win and sent off their seniors with another victory in a historic 13-1 season. With 13 consecutive wins, their first outright Sun Belt Conference Championship, and a New Orleans Bowl trophy, this season was one that Louisiana fans will not forget.