My Favorite Cajun Football Moments – Part 2- From the Bird’s Nest
Over the last two days, I've talked about my least favorite moments covering the Cajuns. Back on Monday, I did part one of my favorite moments. In case you missed that one, #10 was Jason Chery's Five TD Performance against North Texas, #9 was Jake Delhomme's fourth straight win over Louisiana Tech, #8 was Tyler Albrecht's field goal to beat Kansas State, #7 was the four OT win over Middle Tennessee and #6 was the win over Arkansas State just two years ago when their game winning touchdown was nullified by replay.
Five more in the countdown:
#5--FOURTH DOWN MAGIC--USL 32, TULANE 28--LOUISIANA SUPERDOME--OCTOBER 28, 1995
During Nelson Stokley's tenure as head coach, USL and Tulane met on a pretty regular basis. It was a really good series, with both teams having their share of success.
Tulane jumped out to a 15-0 lead with Cecilia's Jamaican Dartez scoring from six yards out and quarterback Shaun King scoring on a two yard run. The second quarter belonged to the Cajuns with Mike Shafer nailing a 37 yard field goal and Marcus Prier scoring on a two yard run.
Tulane got on the board first in the third quarter to take a 21-10 lead after the PAT was no good. Prier scored on another two yard run and the Cajuns added a two point conversion to get within three at 21-18.
USL took the lead on a Kenyon Cotton run late in the third quarter, but Tulane went back out in front on a Dartez 11 yard scamper to put Tulane up 28-25. The teams exchanged punts for most of the fourth quarter and the Cajuns got the ball with 3:41 to play at their own 17.
Delhomme hit Brandon Stokley for 20 yards and added 23 more on a quarterback scramble. But the drive stalled at the Tulane 37 after a pair of incompletions. The Cajuns used not one, but two timeouts to set up their play. The Cajuns needed seven yards.
They got 37.
Delhomme got great protection on fourth down and hit Stokley, who had gotten behind the defender, in stride for the winning touchdown with 2:26 to play. The Cajuns defense did the rest with Tulane getting no closer than the USL 46 yard line.
#4--HOLD ON TIGHT TO THAT ROPE--LOUISIANA 36, ULM 35--CAJUN FIELD--NOVEMBER 5, 2011
Mark Hudspeth lost his first game as the Cajuns' head coach in 2011, but the Cajuns bounced back to new heights. They won six straight games, becoming bowl eligible and were 7-2 heading into November. The Cajuns had not won seven games in a season since the days of Jake Delhomme and had over 28,000 in attendance to see if the Cajuns could get win #8. They were facing ULM, who had a rising star at quarterback in sophomore Kolton Browning.
Browning got the Warhawks on the board with less than four minutes gone in the first quarter on a 62 yard run. Late in the quarter, Jyruss Edwards scored the first of his four touchdowns to make the score 14-0.
The second quarter belonged to Cajuns' quarterback Blaine Gautier.
Gautier hit Ladarius Green on a 22 yard scoring strike to get the Cajuns on the board. After a ULM punt, Gautier's 42 yard run on a quarterback draw got the Cajuns in scoring position and Gautier then hit Javone Lawson from 17 yards away to tie the game.
After a short ULM punt, the Cajuns got the ball at the 48 yard line and Gautier hit Green for another touchdown to give the Cajuns their first lead of the game and Louisiana got points on their fourth straight possession on a 41 yard field goal by Brett Baer with :03 remaining until intermission and the Cajuns took a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
Browning led ULM on a scoring drive in the first possession of the third quarter to cut the Cajuns' lead to 24-21. The Cajuns couldn't move the football and had to play a series without Gautier who has injured on a quarterback draw. Browning led the Warhawks on another march toward the end of the third quarter and hit Edwards on a 12 yard pass to give ULM the lead, 28-24.
The Cajuns had to punt on their next couple of possessions and Gautier was injured again. Masson was intercepted and ULM took over at the UL 11. Edwards got his fourth touchdown of the night and the Warhawks took a two score lead, 35-24.
There was 3:06 left to play and a few Cajun fans headed for the exits.
ULM was hit with a personal foul at the end of the Cajuns' kick return and Louisiana started the drive at the ULM 48 yard line. Six plays later, Gautier found Darryl Surgent on a 14 yard touchdown pass. But the two point conversion was no good and the Cajuns were still behind by five with 2:05 to go.
But, the Cajuns had only one timeout left and had to try an onside kick. Baer executed it perfectly and Green recovered for the Cajuns at the ULM 38. Two completions put the ball at the three and Alonzo Harris did the honors from there, giving the Cajuns a 36-35 lead after the two point conversion was unsuccessful.
But ULM still had over a minute remaining. Browning completed a couple of passes to put the Warhawks at the UL 46 yard line. But three plays later it was fourth down and the clock was running. Browning scrambled and got as far as the 31 before being run out of bounds as the clock expired.
Win number eight. The New Orleans Bowl was in sight.
#3--LOUISIANA 31, HOUSTON 28--ROBERTSON STADIUM, HOUSTON, TX.--OCTOBER 7, 2006
Coming off a share of the Sun Belt title in 2005, The Cajuns opened the 2006 season with losses at LSU and Texas A&M. A couple of home wins followed and in week five, the Cajuns headed to Houston.to take on a very good Cougars team, led by quarterback Kevin Kolb, who went on to play quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The game did not start well. Kolb hit Jeron Harvey for 58 yards on Houston's second possession to set up a touchdown. After Drew Edmiston missed a 50 yard field goal attempt, Kolb threw another long pass to Donnie Avery for 56 yards and a score to make it 14-0.
On the Cajuns' next possession, quarterback Jerry Babb was intercepted and Houston took over at the Louisiana 23. Four plays later, the Cougars were in the end zone again as Kolb ran it in from four yards out. It was 21-0 and the rout was on.
Or so everyone thought.
Deon Wallace returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards to the Houston 28 to set up a Babb 14 yard run, getting the Cajuns on the board. After a Houston punt, a 51 yard run by Michael Desormeaux got the Cajuns inside the Houston ten, setting up an Edmiston field goal to close the gap to 21-10. Houston drove to the Cajun 23 but Michael Adams blocked Ben Bell's field goal try and the Cajuns went into the locker room within striking distance.
Edmiston kicked his second field goal on the Cajuns first possession of the third quarter, but Houston came right back as Kolb completed four passes on a 64 yard drive that made the score 28-13. Edmiston then nailed a 51 yarder to get the Cajuns three points closer as the third quarter ended.
The Cajuns then got a break as Kyle Ward forced a fumble and Brent Burkhalter recovered at the Cajuns' 46. Seven plays later, Tyrell Fenroy scored from 18 yards out and the Houston lead was cut to 28-23.
The Cajuns' defense got a stop and the Cajuns took over at their own 15 with 7:48 to play. Babb led the Cajuns on an 18-play 85 yard scoring drive. The longest play from scrimmage was 12 yards on a run by Babb. Fenroy got 28 yards on five carries once the Cajuns got into Houston territory and his last run gave the Cajuns a first down at the Houston four yard line with 1:06 to play. Babb found Kevin Belton, who made a leaping catch in the end zone to complete an amazing comeback. The two point pass to Derrick Smith made it 31-28.
Thanks to a sack of Kolb by Anthony Hills and Joe Bradley, the fifth sack of the night by the Cajuns' defense, Houston could get nowhere after the kick and the Cajuns left Houston with arguably the biggest win in the Rickey Bustle era.
#2--THE NIGHT PIGS FLEW--USL 29, TEXAS A&M 22--CAJUN FIELD--SEPTEMBER 14, 1996
There have been two games that people talk about when they mention the best atmospheres at a Cajuns game.
Alabama in 1990.
And this one.
By now most people know what happened. Texas A&M turned the ball over eight times. Damon Mason had the night of his life, with nine tackles, a sack, two interceptions, a pass breakup and a pair of forced fumbles.
The Cajuns had three defensive touchdowns: An interception return in the first quarter which tied the game at 7-7, a Charles Johnson fumble return of 17 yards and a 30 yard interception return by Britt Jackson with 6:30 left that proved to be the game winner. The Cajuns nearly had another defensive touchdown after Kelcy Dotson intercepted a pass and ran it into the end zone, but it was negated by a holding call after the pick.
Leading 21-13 in the second quarter, the Cajuns had a chance for more points as Jake Delhomme led USL from their own 20 to the Texas A&M 32. Delhomme hit Brandon Stokley for 14 yards to the A&M 18 and appeared to get out of bounds. But the offical ruled his forward progress had been stopped in bounds and time expired before the Cajuns could get off another play.
Mason's second interception came with :18 left in the game at the Cajuns' 14 yard line as A&M was driving for the tying score. If replay had been in college football back then, the call would have been overturned as the ball hit the ground during the play.
The sights afterward were something Cajun fans would always remember. Delhomme waving to the fans to come onto the field to celebrate. The goal posts coming down. And, the goal posts going up the hill into the night. There were 38,783 at Cajun Field that night. But if you ask individually, you'd swear there were 100,000 people that claimed to be there that memorable night.
#1---AND THE KICK. IS. GOOD!--LOUISIANA 32, SAN DIEGO STATE 30--R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL--MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME--DECEMBER 17, 2011
For years, Cajun fans and the Sun Belt Conference said if Louisiana got to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the event would have a bowl atmosphere, maybe for the first time ever.
The Cajun fans responded on this night and set the first of several attendance records for the event.
The opponent? San Diego State of the Mountain West, featuring Ronnie Hillman who would go on to play for the Denver Broncos.
San Diego State got on the board first with a field goal, but the Cajuns scored the next 19 points (one extra point was blocked, another was missed.) Included was an electrifying punt return of 87 yards by Darryl Surgent. Blaine had touchdown passes to Javone Lawson and Ladarius Green.
Then-Commissioner Wright Waters was sitting alone in a booth right next to us. I looked at him from time to time. He was hanging on just about every play. He had a big smile after the Cajuns' third touchdown.
But Ryan Lindley threw a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter to cut the lead to 19-17. Gautier answered with another TD pass to Lawson The Cajuns answered a San Diego State touchdown with a Baer field goal to take a five point lead with 2:09 to play.
But that would be plenty of time for Lindley.
He marched the Aztecs down the field. 69 yards in 10 plays and his touchdown pass with :35 left gave San Diego State its first lead since the score was 3-0 in the first quarter.
Wright Waters looked like someone stole his dog.
But the Cajuns weren't finished.
Javone Lawson, who had over 190 receiving yards on the day, caught two passes from Gautier, moving the ball from the Cajuns 18 to the SDSU 43. Gautier spiked the ball to stop the clock with :07 left. Rather than ask Baer to try a 60 yard field goal (his career long was 49), Mark Hudspeth elected to run one more play. Harry Peoples got the Cajuns five more yards before going out of bounds.
Baer was going to have to make one from 55.
The teams lined up. But before the snap a flag was thrown. We all thought the Cajuns were going to get hit with a false start, which would have meant a 60 yard attempt.
But the penalty was on San Diego State. The official called it "illegal stemming."
I had never heard of illegal stemming and had no idea what the hell it was. I found out later, it's a penalty when a defensive lineman moves with the intent of drawing the offense offside, creating a false start. Ninety percent of the time, it works. Officials flag the offense.
But the Big 12 officiating crew got it right.
That meant Baer's kick would come from 50 yards instead of 55. Or 60.
ESPN showed Mark Hudspeth on the sidelines. I could read his lips. "He's gonna make it. He's gonna make it."
Snap. Hold. Kick.
Baer ran the length of the field, his teammates chasing him. The celebration on the field was amazing.
In the booth next to me, Wright Waters had his hands raised over his head. I swear he had some hang time.
Blaine Gautier threw for 470 yards and three scores and was named the game's MVP.
And, I was the happiest I've ever been covering Ragin' Cajuns football.