The Ragin’ Cajuns Come Up Just Short Against the Jaguars on Homecoming Night
For homecoming, the Cajuns were facing the South Alabama Jaguars. The Jags boasted the best record in the league, sitting at 3-1 with their only loss being a one point devastator against UCLA.
The Cajuns brought out some stylish throwback helmets for the occasion, which looked great in the afternoon sun as the Cajuns took the field.
The coin was flipped, the Cajuns won and deferred.
It was time for some football.
The Jags opened up with a few big plays on their opening drive to get down into Cajuns territory. The Cajuns defense tightened up and denied the Jags on a 4th down conversion to get the ball back with good field position.
Despite rumors of an injury, Chandler Fields came out to lead the Cajuns on their first drive. After a bizarre interception-turned-fumble, Chris Smith flipped the field for the Cajuns on a long run, but the drive stalled out soon after. Kenny Almendares missed the field goal and the game remained scoreless.
The Jags went three-and-out right away, and the punt team came out.
The Cajuns offense never saw the field. Eric Garror took the punt 69 yards and didn't stop till the grass turned vermilion.
The Cajuns now had momentum, and were back on defense with energy. The Cajuns punished the Jags and made the punter make another appearance. A bad punt set the Cajuns up with excellent field position.
The teams traded punts, and Fields came back out for his second drive. A bad snap put the Cajuns in a tough spot, and there was no coming back.
At the end of the first, it was fourth down for the Cajuns.
The Jags took the ball and started driving. A Kris Moncrief sack followed by an intentional grounding call set the Jags back enough to stop the drive in its tracks.
The Cajuns still couldn't get anything going on offense.
The same could not be said of the Jags. An up-tempo drive lead to a short touchdown run which tied the game at 7 near the end of the half.
The Cajuns tried to push the ball down the field, but Ben Wooldridge threw a bad interception and gave the ball back to South Al.
But the Cajuns defense would continue to do everything possible to keep the team in the game. A Bralen Trahan pick gave Ben Wooldridge a chance at redemption.
Wooldridge made a valiant effort to get the ball down the field, getting within range for a Kenny Almendares field goal. However, Almendares missed his second field goal on the day, and the Cajuns went into the half tied up with the Jaguars.
As the extended homecoming second half ended, the Cajuns would get the ball to start the second half of play. Ben Wooldridge would lead the Cajuns for the rest of the game, as Fields did not play after the half.
The Cajuns offense continued to struggle, and the Jags would begin their first drive of the half.
Play would be suspended for some time after DJ Thomas-Jones collapsed on the sideline. Emergency teams were with him almost immediately, and he was carted off the field.
After that horrible situation, the game resumed and the Jags began driving. They made it within field goal range before the Cajuns defense tightened up. Diego Guajardo kicked the field goal to make it a 10-7 game in South Alabama's favor.
The onus was now on the Cajuns offense to retake control of this game. Instead, Michael Jefferson fumbled the ball. The Jags were driving, taking advantage of the turnover, but the Cajuns held up for 4 downs within their own 10 and the Jags were not able to capitalize on the turnover.
The Cajuns offense punted yet again and the Jags began to drive. They were back near the Cajuns 10 yard line by the time the third quarter ended.
The Jags would start the fourth with a touchdown to go up by two scores.
The Cajuns needed to come alive and fast. Wooldridge began to orchestrate a positive drive, but a David Hudson holding call stopped the drive in its tracks. Almendares would come on for a long 51-yard field goal.
Almendares redeemed some of his earlier struggles by nailing the field goal and bringing the deficit back to 7.
The defense continued to do their part, forcing a 3-and-out.
The Cajuns offense needed to make something happen. Wooldridge did an excellent job pushing the Cajuns down into the red zone. Time was running short and the game was getting intense. The Cajuns got closer and closer to paydirt.
And Wooldridge went to Pearse Migl to even it all up.
Now it was a game. It all came down to one South Alabama drive. They moved the ball to the 27, and with 4 seconds left to go, they sent out Diego Guajardo to try to put the game away.
Guajardo made the kick. The game was over. The Cajuns fell to the Jaguars 17-20.
The Cajuns will have a bye week before a chance to get back on the horse in West Virginia against the Raging Herd of Marshall.