My Least Favorite Cajun Games – Pt 1 – From the Bird’s Nest
You gotta take the bad with the good.
Yesterday I shared the first five of my ten favorite games I've experienced while covering the Cajuns.
Here are five I'd rather forget.
#10--THE NIGHT THE CAJUNS QUIT - UCF 31, LOUISIANA 0--FLORIDA CITRUS BOWL--NOV.24, 2001
I've seen some bad losses over the years covering the Cajuns, but at least they've shown a desire to compete.
Not on this day.
It was the final game of the 2001 season, and, as it turned out, the final game for head coach Jerry Baldwin. The Cajuns were at UCF, who came into the game at 5-5.
It was a debacle from the beginning. I won't go into all of the details, but the Cajuns were led on that day by the 30 yards rushing by a guy named Ivan Taylor. Yep, the Steelers' Pro Bowler was a running back that year. He got 30 yards on eleven carries. Fifteen of those yards came on his first two carries.
The Cajuns had 214 yards of offense in the game. They were 4-17 on third down. They got inside the UCF forty yard line once...and fumbled. They punted ten times.
UCF didn't score in the second half. They missed a field goal and turned it over twice. Otherwise it would have been worse.
Because he had another year left on his contract, and because the Cajuns were financially strapped, I was somewhat surprised when Baldwin was fired two days later.
I shouldn't have been. Not after that.
#9--THE VANISHING LEAD--MIAMI (OHIO) 29, USL 28--YAGER STADIUM, OXFORD OH--SEPTEMBER 11, 1993
It was the first road game of the year for the Cajuns. They had lost their first game to Utah State, but fans were encouraged by a skinny freshman named Jake Delhomme, who rallied the Cajuns in the second half of that game. Delhomme was getting his first start against the team that at the time, was still known as the Redskins.
The Cajuns came out roaring.
USL got an early touchdown on an Aaron Fisher run and, after Miami kicked a field goal, Marcus Prier scored from 35 yards out. The Cajuns them recovered a fumble at the Miami 16 yard line and Delhomme hit Buck Moncla on a touchdown pass to give the Cajuns a 21-3 lead at halftime
The Cajuns increased their lead to 28-3 after holding Miami on the Redskins' first drive of the second half. The Cajuns were cruising.
And then they weren't.
Miami put together an 82 yard drive and scored its first touchdown with 3:29 to go in the third quarter. Then early in the fourth, they scored on a 66 yard touchdown pass to make the score 28-17. the Cajuns drove into the red zone, but on third and goal, Delhomme's pass was intercepted and returned to the USL 49. Seven plays later the Redskins were on the board to cut the lead to 28-23 with six minutes left.
The Cajuns had to punt and Miami had one more chance with 2:59 to play. They only needed 1:16 to take the lead. Delhomme was intercepted again on the next series and the Cajuns flew home with a tough loss.
#8--THE HOMECOMING MASSACRE--WESTERN KENTUCKY 54, LOUISIANA 21--CAJUN FIELD--OCTOBER 23, 2010
2010 didn't start all that well for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Louisiana was 2-4 and 2-2 in Sun Belt play. But there was still hope. The Cajuns were celebrating homecoming and Western Kentucky was coming to town. The Hilltoppers were struggling in their early years in the FBS and had lost 26 straight games. The Cajuns were ready to move over the .500 mark in league play against the hapless Hilltoppers.
Or so they thought.
WKU took an early 3-0 lead but the Cajuns put together a drive toward the end of the first quarter and faced third and 6 at the WKU 26 five plays into the second quarter. Chris Masson was sacked and fumbled. Jamarcus Allen returned it 69 yards for a score to make the score 10-0. To the Cajuns' credit, they came right back. Masson hit Aaron Spikes with a 52 yard touchdown pass to make the score 10-7, but WKU put together a methodical drive and scored after keeping the ball for over eight minutes to make the score 17-7.
Then disaster struck again. Spencer Ortego mishandled a snap on a punt and WKU took over at the UL 24. Two plays later they were in the end zone to make the score and a field goal on the last play put the Cajuns in a 27-7 hole at halftime.
It got worse. The Cajuns scored in the third quarter but WKU got the points right back. Western scored another touchdown to go up 40-14. Masson was intercepted by Derrius Brooks who turned it into a pick-six and after another interception, WKU scored again to make the score 54-14.
54-21 was the final. The Cajuns had given up over 400 yards to a team that had lost 26 in a row. Ricky Bustle was told the night before the final game of the season he would not be returning as UL's football coach.
#7--SOME LOSSES ARE UNFORGIVABLE--MCNEESE STATE 38, LOUISIANA 17--CAJUN FIELD--SEPTEMBER 15, 2007
I should say, first off, the long rivalry between the Cajuns and McNeese State wasn't something I could relate to. I had never seen the two teams play. I did know the history, especially from friends in my age group. This was a VERY important game to them. In fact, if they were doing this list, this game would certainly be in the top five of their worst moments. It was the first meeting between the two schools in 21 years and 33,828 fans were in attendance.
The Cajuns threatened with their first possession but went backwards after reaching the McNeese 31. McNeese drove down and got a field goal. The Cajuns responded with a touchdown drive to take a 7-3 lead. Jarret Jones then intercepted a Derrick Fourroux pass and returned it to the McNeese 44, putting the Cajuns in good shape. But Michael Desormeaux.s pass from the McNeese 16 yard line was intercepted, ending the threat.
On the next Cajuns' possession, Desormeaux was intercepted again, but Antwan Zanders got the ball right back, recovering a Fourroux fumble.at the McNeese 27.
Then came the turning point of the game.
Desormeaux had the ball stripped by Kody Knox and Allen Nelson returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to put McNeese in front, 10-7. Desormeaux turned it over for the fourth time in the first half on an interception and the Cowboys turned it into another touchdown to take a 17-7 lead.
Drew Edmiston hit a 37 yard field goal to make the score 17-10 and then the Cajuns blocked a punt and recovered it at the McNeese 18 yard line, setting up Desormeaux's pass to Derrick Smith to tie the game with 1:32 left in the first half.
That was plenty of time for Fourroux, who marched the Cowboys 61 yards in five plays to give McNeese a 24-17 lead at the half.
The Cajuns were down at the half, but had turned the ball over four times. Surely they would be able to come back. But the McNeese defense forced the Cajuns to punt on their first two possessions and the Cowboys struck again late in the third quarter to go up 31-17.
The Cajuns missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter but Grant Fleming intercepted a pass and returned it to the McNeese 35. The Cajuns failed on fourth down from the five yard line and McNeese drove the length of the field for another score to put the game away.
Afterward, the looks on the faces of the fans told the story. McNeese, after 21 years, still owned the Cajuns. For some, that was the day they quit supporting Rickey Bustle.
#6--HUD'S WORST LOSS?--LOUISIANA TECH 48, LOUISIANA 20--CAJUN FIELD--SEPTEMBER 6, 2014.
Like the game against McNeese seven years prior, a game with Louisiana Tech was important. The Bulldogs had refused to play the Cajuns after leaving the Sun Belt Conference, looking for "separation" from both Louisiana and ULM.
But finally, after the Cajuns refused to schedule Tech in any sport, the Bulldogs agreed to a two game series. Tech was coming off a tough season and the Cajuns were double digit favorites to get their first win over the Bulldogs since 1996.
Both teams moved the football early, but neither team was able to get on the scoreboard. Late in the first quarter, Daniel Cadona had a beauty of a punt, downed at the Tech one yard line. But Kenneth Dixon scored on a 99 yard run on the first play to give Tech the lead. The Cajuns came right back to tie the game on an Alonzo Harris run on the first play of the second quarter.
Tech got a big momentum boost, stopping the Cajuns on fourth and one from the Tech 39 and used that momentum to drive 61 yards to take the lead. They added a field goal just before the half ended and took a 17-7 lead into the locker room.
The second half was all Bulldogs.
Tech hit on a 78 yard bomb on the second play of the third quarter to make the score 24-7 and, later in the period, Terrance Broadway was intercepted by Xavier Woods who returned it for a touchdown. Another Tech score made it 38-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Cajuns got a pair of touchdowns late, including one on the game's final play, but that was just window dressing. The Cajuns had clamored for this game for over a decade.
Be careful what you wish for.
Although the Cajuns would go on to a 7-1 league record and their fourth straight win in New Orleans, for some Cajun fans, the loss to Tech never left them.