Jay’s Memorable Moment #17 – Fenroy’s Finale
Louisiana 42, Middle Tennessee 28
Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA
December 3, 2008
There are a few Tyrell Fenroy moments that could have made this list of memorable moments.
Like the time the Cajuns won a piece of the Sun Belt title his freshman season with a convincing win over Louisiana-Monroe that kept the Warhawks out of the New Orleans Bowl.
Or, another game against ULM when he rushed for 297 yards as the Cajuns set a school record for total offense in another Warhawks beatdown in 2008.
But the night I’ll always remember about #32 was his last game as a Cajun.
It wasn’t his best game. He had fewer than 100 yards rushing. But there were a lot of things about that game that made it memorable, indeed.
The game was moved to Wednesday night for television. The Cajuns came in at 5-6 and needed the win for bowl eligibility. Louisiana had a pair of one possession losses to AQ schools in Illinois and Kansas State. And Louisiana was right in the mix for the conference title until suffering back-to-back losses to FAU and Troy. It was a year where the Sun Belt had announced auxiliary bowl tie-ins for it’s bowl eligible teams, and, with interest from the Texas Bowl as well, it appeared a win would end the 38-year bowl drought the Cajuns had experienced.
Before the game, there was a surprise for the 15,321 in attendance. Senior ceremonies were held as usual with the parents coming onto the field with their sons. Kickoff was minutes away. But there was one more piece of business.
Public address announcer Hans Nelson called attention to the wall on the east side of the stadium where the numbers of the all-time greats were displayed. Nelson started to read the names.
As he got to the third one, Tyrell Fenroy realized why Nelson was calling attention to the numbers. And he immediately fell to one knee, head bowed, tears starting to well in his eyes. Head Coach Rickey Bustle knelt next to him and put his arms around him. His teammates gathered around as well. The #32 that Fenroy wore would go up on that wall with names like Mitchell, Delhomme, Stokley, Thomas, Lafleur and Mason.
I got goosebumps.
But there still was the business of a football game.
And, it was one helluva game.
The Cajuns went 80 yards in eleven plays after the opening kickoff. That drive was all Michael Desormeaux, as the Cajuns quarterback completed six passes, including one to Fenroy for 16 yards. The drive culminated with a four yard pass from Desormeaux to Luke Aubrey and the Cajuns had the early lead.
That lead only lasted two minutes as the Raiders struck right back, with Phillip Tanner’s two yard run being the equalizer.
The Cajuns punted, but got the first break in the game when Orkeys Auriene blocked a punt, putting the Cajuns in business at the Raiders’ 47. Eight plays later Fenroy scored from four yards out and the Cajuns had the lead back at 14-7.
The Cajuns defense forced another punt as the first quarter came to a close and the Cajuns started the second period the same way they started the first, driving 61 yards in 10 plays with Fenroy doing the honors from three yards away to put the Cajuns up by two scores.
But again, the Raiders struck right back, going 80 yards in 11 plays, with Tanner’s four yard run getting MT within a touchdown. Middle Tennessee had one other chance to score in the first half, but Alan Gendreau missed a field goal from 46 yards out and the Cajuns took a seven point lead into the locker room.
Middle Tennessee got the ball first in the second half and drove 82 yards in 13 plays as Joe Craddock hit Eldred King for 22 yards and a touchdown to tie the game at 21. But Louisiana answered with a 63 yard drive of its own, with Desormeaux hitting freshman tight end Ladarius Green for five yards and a touchdown to give the Cajuns the lead right back.
Craddock and the Raiders then began a drive that took up the rest of the third quarter and on the first play of the fourth, the Raiders’ quarterback hit Sancho McDonald with a 15 yard score to tie the game at 28. But, nine plays later Louisiana was in the end zone again, this time on a Desormeaux pass to Jason Chery that gave the Cajuns the 35-28 lead.
It was becoming more and more obvious whoever was going to win the game was going to have to make a play on the defensive end, and as it turned out, it was the Cajuns that made the play as Jez Washington forced a Desmond Gee fumble at the Cajuns 44 yard line and Gerren Blount recovered to put the Cajuns in business. Four plays later the Cajuns were back in the promised land as Desormeaux threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night, this one to Louis Lee to put the Cajuns back up by two scores.
On the Raiders’ next offensive play, Daylon McCoy picked off a Craddock pass at the Middle Tennessee 38. The Cajuns couldn’t take advantage, but by the time the Raiders got the football back, there were just over three minutes to play. Another Raiders’ fumble ended the last hope they had and Fenroy rushed for two first downs as the Cajuns ran out the clock for the 42-28 win.
Fenroy finished his final game as a Cajuns with 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The two scores moved him past Brian Mitchell into first place in Cajuns’ history in rushing touchdowns and Fenroy also broke Mitchell’s single season rushing record in the game as well.
As it turned out, the agreement for a secondary bowl tie-in wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, the Texas Bowl decided to invite Western Michigan in the final hour before bowl invitations were issued and the Cajuns wound up sitting at home.
But Cajun fans will remember the way they felt when they left Cajun Field that night.
Fenroy, who ended his career with 4,646 yards rushing, won’t forget it either.