Louisiana Holds on Late to Beat Georgia Southern 28-20
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns used a big third quarter and a few defensive stands in the second half to beat the Georgia Southern Eagles 28-20 on the road.
The Louisiana offense dialed up multiple passing plays on their opening possession, but senior quarterback Levi Lewis had issues connecting with his receivers early on. Lewis only completed one of his first four passes. The Cajuns were forced to punt after an incompletion on third down.
The Eagles were excellent on third down during their first drive, converting all three of their attempts on a 16-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to strike first.
Louisiana's offense was unable to answer the Georgia Southern touchdown drive, and they punted again.
A sack by Cajuns linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill was a key for Louisiana's defense in forcing a three-and-out against the Eagles on their second drive.
On the first play of the second quarter, Lewis connected with wide receiver Michael Jefferson on a 48-yard touchdown pass to put the Cajuns on the board and tie the game up at 7-7 in Statesboro.
The Cajuns defense responded after the first big play by the offense by forcing a three-and-out to put Lewis and the offense back on the field with a chance to take their first lead of the half.
Louisiana drove down to the Georgia Southern 7, and, on a fourth down, a personal foul penalty against the Eagles during a field goal attempt gave the Cajuns a first-and-goal. Louisiana took advantage, and freshman running back Emani Bailey ran into the end zone from three yards out to give the Cajuns their first lead of the day at 14-7.
Louisiana's defense sensed the shifting momentum, and a sack on third down forced yet another three-and-out. However, a failed fourth-and-inches conversion by the Cajuns near midfield set the Eagles up in excellent position to score before halftime.
Georgia Southern took advantage of the turnover and scored their second touchdown of the day, but the extra point was blocked, so the Cajuns held onto their lead. Louisiana's offense drove to midfield, but a big loss on third down prevented them from stretching their lead back and they punted.
The Cajuns special teams came up with their second blocked kick of the day. Junior safety Percy Butler got the block on a 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half, and Louisiana hung on to their 14-13 lead at the break.
Louisiana started to take control of the game early in the third quarter.
The Cajuns defense forced a punt to open up the second half. On the ensuing Cajuns drive, Bailey carried Louisiana's offense deep into Eagles territory by picking up a botched snap and running for a 35-yard rush. On the very next play, Lewis connected with tight end Johnny Lumpkin for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 21-13.
Butler produced another big play for the Cajuns defense, coming up with an interception to give Louisiana their first turnover of the day.
It took five plays for the Cajuns offense to go 92 yards and further extend their lead. This time, Lewis connected with Dontae Fleming on a beautiful 46-yard touchdown to make it a 28-13 game.
Louisiana's defense continued their stellar third quarter play by forcing a turnover-on-downs on the Eagles first decent drive of the second half, but the Cajuns offense went three-and-out and failed to take advantage.
On the next Eagles possession, Cajuns sophomore defensive lineman Kendall Wilkerson came up with a big sack on fourth down to force the second consecutive turnover on downs. Once again, the Cajuns offense was stopped and forced to punt to start the fourth quarter.
The Georgia Southern offense broke off a 76-yard touchdown run for their first big play of the second half, taking advantage of poor tackling by the Cajuns to bring the game back to one possession at 28-20.
Louisiana's offensive struggles on third downs continued on the following drive. Lewis was sacked on a third-and-short to force a third straight punt for the Cajuns. The sack made them 3/12 on third down on the night, and momentum started to shift back towards the Eagles sideline.
However, the Louisiana defense got their third stop on fourth down in the second half to prevent the Eagles from coming any closer.
With five minutes left in the game, Lewis and the offense faced another third down, and he had to throw it away. Once again, the Cajuns had an opportunity to put Georgia Southern away, but they came up empty on third down.
The Eagles converted a fourth-and-one in their own territory with just over two minutes left to go in the game. Junior defensive lineman Zi'Yon Hill came up with a big sack with 56 seconds left to put Georgia Southern at third-and-15. After an incompletion, a pressure forced another incompletion on fourth down, and the Louisiana defense came up with their fourth turnover on downs in the second half.
The Cajuns held on to win the game 28-20 to improve to 3-1 this season and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Up next, Louisiana plays their second road conference game against the South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7:00 p.m.
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