Cajuns’ Ground Game Grinds Up Arkansas State 55-40
Going into Tuesday night's nationally televised game at Cajun Field, Arkansas State had only allowed 114 yards per game on the ground.
But Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns took that statistical thread and ripped it to pieces en route to a 55-40 win over the Red Wolves before 21,760 at Cajun Field.
Elijah McGuire rolled up 265 yards rushing on 19 carries and tallied four touchdowns. Teammate Alonzo Harris added 107 yards on 27 carries and another four touchdowns as the Cajuns' hammered the A-State defense for 419 yards rushing in the contest.
The 265 yards by McGuire was the third most in a single game in Cajuns' history.
Louisiana (4-3, 3-0 Sun Belt) scored four touchdowns in a period of 7:31`to take a commanding lead and held off an Arkansas State comeback to secure the win.
The Red Wolves (4-3, 2-1) jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on a 60 yard run by quarterback Fredi Knighten on the Red Wolves fourth play from scrimmage, but the Cajuns responded with a nine play, 81 yard drive with Harris scoring the first of his four touchdowns to tie the game. Quarterback Terrance Broadway hit Devin Scott with a 21 yard gain and completed a pass to James Butler for 34 yards four plays later to get the Cajuns into the red zone.
J. D.McKissick's 55 yard run on the first play after the kickoff set up a 44 yard field goal by Luke Ferguson to give the Red Wolves a 9-6 lead with 4:58 left in the first quarter. It would be the last time Arkansas State would lead in the game.
The Cajuns put together a 75 yard drive on nine plays, with Harris scoring from 22 yards out to put the Cajuns in front to stay with 1:20 left in the quarter.
The Cajuns' defense then came up with a couple of big plays, as Christian Ringo sacked Knighten on a second and nine from the ASU 41. On the next play, Corey Trim intercepted a Knighten pass and returned it to the one yard line and Harris scored for the third time to put the Cajuns on top 20-9.
After an Arkansas State punt, the Cajuns went right back to work. Harris rambled for a 47 yard run to the ASU 27, but offsetting penalties negated the play. But on the very next play, McGuire went off the right side for a 74 yard touchdown to extend the lead to 27-9.
A short punt of 33 yards gave the Cajuns good field position at their own 46 yard line, and the Cajuns took advantage as McGuire gouged the Red Wolves on runs of 23 and 13 yards, the second getting him into the end zone and Louisiana led 34-9 with 8:49 to go until halftime.
Arkansas State gained a little momentum on their next series when Michael Gordon got up after it appeared he had been stopped for a short gain, and turned it into a 70 yard touchdown run to get the Red Wolves back to 24-16, and after a Daniel Cadona punt to the 13 yard line, Knighten found Dijon Paschal for an 87 yard pass for a score that cut the lead to 34-23 at halftime.
By halftime the two teams had combined for 734 yards with Arkansas State tallying 386 to the Cajuns' 349, despite the Red Wolves only having the football for 10:09.
But the Cajuns' defense came up big in the third quarter. Arkansas State went three and out on their first possession. The Cajuns couldn't take advantage and Cadona punted to the ASU 9. The Red Wolves then inexplicably tried a fake punt from its own eight yard line, but lost two yards on the play giving the ball to the Cajuns at the six yard line. Two plays later, Harris was in the end zone to make the score 41-20.
After going scoreless in the third quarter, Arkansas State got another Ferguson field goal following a 17 play, 78 yard drive to cut the score to 41-26. Following a Cajuns' punt with just 7:56 left, the Red Wolves drove 93 yards on eight plays highlighted by a Knighten pass to McKissick good for 56 yards. Knighten found Paschal on a fade route to the end zone on fourth down and five for the touchdown The two point conversion failed and Arkansas State trailed by two scores, 41-32 with 5:37 to go.
Following an unsuccessful onside kick, the Cajuns got the ball in good field position and after a pair of Harris runs gained twelve yards, McGuire cut loose around left end for a 43 yard touchdown run which seemed to put the game away, 48-32, with 3:30 to play. But Arkansas State wasn't finished. Knighten finished off a 50 yard drive by throwing another touchdown pass, this one to Tres Houston and the two point conversion made it a one possession game at 48-40 with 1:12 left.
After another unsuccessful onside kick, McGuire put the game away on a third and ten play, racing 54 yards off the right side for the final score.
Arkansas State wound up outgaining the Cajuns 595-521, as Knighten completed 26-37 for 344 yards and three touchdowns, with the one costly interception. Gordon led the Red Wolves on the ground with 134 yards on 15 carries, including the 70 yard touchdown. The Cajuns defense, however, sacked Knighten five times and held the Red Wolves to just 4-17 on third down.
Broadway completed 9-17 passes for 102 yards and rushed for 38 yards on eight carries. He was sacked once.
Both teams had their share of penalties with the Cajuns being flagged nine times for 83 yards and ASU seven times for 51 yards. There were several offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in addition, with two ASU players ejected for receiving two flags apiece.
Louisiana will now get eleven days off before entertaining South Alabama Saturday, November 1st at Cajun Field for homecoming. Kickoff will be at 4pm.