Despite the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns best efforts late in Saturday’s Sun Belt Championship game, the end result was all too familiar with Appalachian State taking the win with a 45-38 victory.
How It Happened
The Mountaineers came out the gate strong with a six-play drive that ended with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Zac Thomas to Darrynton Evans. After a fumble by Raymond Calais on the Cajuns opening drive, App State got out to a 14-0 lead five plays later with Evans walking it in from eight yards out. Thomas found the Sun Belt’s offensive player of the year once again late in the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown pass.
The Cajuns finally got on the board with 25 seconds left until the end of the first quarter when Levi Lewis connected with freshman Peter Leblanc on a 37-yard pass to make it 21-7. App State continued to stay in front though with a 29-yard run by Marcus Williams Jr. early in the second quarter, making it a 28-7 lead. The Cajuns answered the bell though with a methodical 11-play drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Mitchell.
However, the Mountaineers continued to keep them out of reach with a 25-yard touchdown run from Daetrich Harrington. Former Lafayette High Mighty Lion Stevie Artigue chipped away at the lead just before halftime with a career-long 53-yard field goal, making it 35-17 as both teams headed into the locker room.
Things started to slow down for both teams with neither team putting up points until a pick-six from App State’s Josh Thomas put things out of reach. The Cajuns responded on the next drive though with a two-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Ja’Marcus Bradley that capped off an eight-play drive. The Mountaineers made it a three-touchdown ballgame once again with a 35-yard field goal that went through the uprights by Chandler Staton.
The Cajuns came alive in the final seven minutes of regulation with Elijah Mitchell capping off a 13-play drive with a quick run into the endzone. After failing to recover the ensuing onside kick, their defense came up huge with a three-and-out and quickly fired back with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Leblanc to make it a seven-point ballgame. However, the onside kick going out of bounds sealed the Cajuns fate and secured the Mountaineers third straight conference title.
Big Number: 3
Multiple turnovers can be the difference between a competitive ballgame and a blowout. While the end result was a seven-point loss for the Cajuns, their three turnovers loomed large in making the Mountaineers lead a little too large to overcome.
Player of the Game: Darrynton Evans
The Mountaineers running back was just an absolute nuisance for the Cajuns defense with three total touchdowns with two coming off a pair of long touchdown passes.
Next Game: TBA