Louisiana Falls to Texas in Season Opener 38-18
#23 Louisiana battled #19 Texas in Austin this afternoon in one of the most anticipated season-openers in program history.
In the end, Texas proved to be the better team on Saturday, winning 38-18.
"There's no doubt this group has some fight in them, I'm proud of the effort," said head coach Billy Napier. "Technically, there's a lot of things to learn from, but that's a good team (in Texas). You've got to congratulate coach (Steve) Sarkisian and his team...they're a well coach outfit."
The Ragin' Cajuns gained an early 3-0 lead, but the Longhorns answered with a 70 yard touchdown scoring drive that included a 4th down conversion to take a 7-0 lead, one they would never relinquish.
The second quarter saw each team exchange multiple possessions, before the Longhorns added another touchdown, going up 14-3 with 2:00 left in the first half.
Louisiana's offense made it a one possession game going into halftime, setting up kicker Kenneth Almendares for a career-long 48 yard field goal as the 2nd quarter ended.
The second half was a different story.
Texas scored a touchdown on each of their first three offensive possessions, including the first drive of the second half.
Louisiana responded to the first one with their best drive of the day, going 79 yards on a dozen plays, scoring on a Chris Smith 27 yard run.
Smith's score was followed by two Ragin' Cajun special teams plays that were unsuccessful.
Almendares's extra point attempt was blocked.
This was followed by a surprise onside kick, but the Longhorns were not fooled.
Texas scored another touchdown. Louisiana's offense punted on the ensuing drive. Then Texas scored again.
At 35-12 in the 4th quarter, the game was out of reach for the Cajuns.
They still added a few impressive highlights, including this impressive catch and run by Kyren Lacy for one of the two Louisiana touchdowns on the day.
The two-point attempt was unsuccessful, as was the onside kick attempt one play later.
With good field position and a 17 point lead, the Longhorns added another three points on a 49 yard field goal, going up 38-18.
The Cajuns entered the red zone, looking to add a cosmetic touchdown, but Emani Bailey fumbled at the Texas 12 yard line. It was recovered by the Longhorns with 3:36 left in the contest. It was also the only turnover of the game by either team.
Texas outdueled Louisiana in several key areas, and in particular, 3rd down efficiency.
"When you look at 3rd downs, they were just better than us today," explained Napier. "They did a really good job. Their quarterback made some play with his feet to extend plays."
The Longhorns converted 10-15 third downs, while Louisiana was 4-13.
Texas was successful on multiple third and longs.
The result led to the Horns dominating the time-of-possession battle (33:13 to 26:47) at a point in the game when it mattered most, wearing out the Ragin' Cajuns defense over the course of the contest, leading to more production, more yards, and ultimately more scoring for Texas.
Texas finished with 435 total yards. Louisiana ended the game with 358, many of which were in the 4th quarter when the game result was not in question.
"I'm proud of our young men," said Napier. "I think we represented ourselves the right way today. We can play better football. We can coach better football. We can learn from this. I think it makes you better to play a formidable opponent."
Louisiana will look to bounce back next Saturday when they play host to Nichols State at Cajun Field. Kickoff is schedule for 6:00 pm.