The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns kick off their 2019 Sun Belt Conference schedule this weekend as they travel to Statesboro to take on the Georgia Southern Eagles (1-2).

This will be the first time Billy Napier will be returning to Paulson Stadium since he was a player collegiately at Furman as the Paladins quarterback where he played arguably the best game of his career at Furman.

Georgia Southern and Furman were then conference rivals in, what was, the Southern Conference in NCAA 1-AA college football.

Napier quarterbacked the Paladins in 2001 and 2002 and during his junior year, he faced the Eagles twice. The first meeting was a rough one at Paulson Stadium for young Billy Napier as he went 17 for 31 with 196 passing yards, two interceptions, and a fumble lost. That was certainly a performance he'd want to forget or at least one he'd go onto learning from.

The three turnovers led to 13 Georgia Southern points and his Furman squad fell 20-10 on that day during the regular season.

However, Napier would get another shot at playing in Paulson Stadium later that year in the NCAA 1-AA semi-final playoff game when the Paladins met the Eagles with an opportunity to play for a National Championship on the line.

So, with the stakes higher you saw an uptick in the level of play from Napier and the rest of the team as he played nearly a perfect game. And when I saw nearly perfect I mean he was a perfect 12 for 12 passing, throwing for 159 yards and a late touchdown strike that would at the time tie the game at 17 to Bear Rhinehart. It was said that his receivers aided him in his perfect performance by making some unbelievable catches throughout this game.

The Paladins would go on to win the game 24-17 and move onto the National Championship where they would ultimately fall to Montana 13-6 in a hard-fought defensive battle.

It'll be fun to see the Cajuns battle the Eagles this weekend with Napier back on the sidelines at Paulson Stadium to see if he can cook up some magic once again, this time as a play-caller.

 

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