Ragin’ Cajuns Spoil Blakeney’s Going Away Party
Troy wanted to send off their long-time Head Coach Larry Blakeney with a win against the Ragin' Cajuns in front of a big supporting crowd, but they didn't get either.
An inspired Troy team (despite an embarrassingly small turnout for Blakeney's sendoff) went into halftime with a 23-21 lead, but the Cajuns flipped the switch coming out of the locker room and asserted their will to pick up their eighth regular season win. The scoreboard read 42-23, but it was truly two separate games mashed into one.
A first half ridden with penalties and self-inflicted wounds for the Cajuns put Coach Mark Hudspeth in a tight spot jogging into the locker room. What was his message to his men?
"Let's stop doing those silly things that are keeping us from executing on both sides," Hudspeth told his troops, "we'll be fine."
Surely a tamer version of the speech his team received, but still a reflection on the corrective course from the first half to the second.
In the first half, the Cajuns allowed Troy QB Brandon Silvers to complete 23 of his 25 passing attempts in the first half for three touchdowns and well over 200 yards. Silvers was picking apart the gaps in the Cajuns' zone scheme, so in the second half the UL defense used more man. After the change, Troy's offense was unable to stop the rush or muster any more points.
Failed execution on a snap near the goal line led to a Terrance Broadway safety, and crucial penalties prolonged Trojan drives in the first half, yet the errors seemed to disappear into thin air in the second half. Hudspeth might have told the media he told his team they would be fine, but the change in attitude bordered on wizardry.
The running game was consistent, regardless of what half it was. Elijah McGuire ran for 168 yards with two scores, one of which came from 75 yards out and was the single play on a Cajun scoring drive to immediately answer a Troy score. The battering ram, Alonzo Harris, registered three touchdowns and 86 yards on 17 carries, and Terrance Broadway added 78 yards with his legs and a rushing score as well. Add 344 total rushing yards to a very efficient passing game, and you get a 486 yard death sentence.
Ragin' Cajun Offensive Coordinator Jay Johnson conducted a masterpiece, especially in the second half. Three separate drives lasting over five minutes completely sapped the life force from the Trojans in crunch time, and Broadway did an excellent job of making the simple, correct decisions all game.
The win gives the Ragin' Cajuns an 8-4 regular season record for the fourth straight year and most likely another trip to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, but most importantly it marks the first 7-1 record in Sun Belt play since the Cajuns joined the conference.
With a ULM win over Georgia Southern, the Ragin' Cajuns would be Co-Sun Belt Champions again, which means Cajuns pulling for Warhawks...just remember, it's for a good cause.
UPDATE: Georgia Southern defeated ULM 22-16, winning an outright Sun Belt Conference championship in the process. Louisiana finished 2nd in the Sun Belt.