The UL Ragin’ Cajuns and Iowa State Cyclones faced off to start their seasons on Sept. 12. The Ragin’ Cajuns won with a final score of 31-14, making history and stirring up excitement on the Jack Trice Stadium field.
This win over the previously ranked No. 23 Iowa State caused the Ragin’ Cajuns to become ranked in both major Top 25 polls. The USA TODAY Coaches Poll lists UL Ragin’ Cajuns at No. 25 in the nation and the Associated Press Writers Poll ranks them at No. 19, as of Monday, Sept. 21. Being ranked on the USA TODAY Coaches Poll marks history being that UL had never been listed before. The last time Louisiana was ranked was in 1943 on the AP Writers Poll Top 25 as the No. 15 ranked team. They were then known as the Southwestern Louisiana Institute Bulldogs.
The Cajuns being ranked for the first time in 77 years is a huge accomplishment and left anticipation for their recent game against the Georgia State Panthers on Sept. 19. The last time Louisiana beat a Top 25 team was in 1996 at home against Texas A&M.
Iowa State proceeded to score first in the second quarter with a one-yard run from RB Kene Nwangu. On the following kickoff, Chris Smith returned an exhilarating 95-yard kickoff tying the score 7-7.
In the same quarter, Iowa State scored their final touchdown of the game with an 11-yard rush from Breece Hall resulting in a 14-7 Iowa score. This touchdown sets the score 14-7 and locks down the scoring for No. 23 Iowa State.
To finish the first half, the Cajuns scored a short field goal bringing the score to 14-10. From there we see the team make jaw-dropping plays that resulted in Louisiana becoming a ranked team for the first time in 77 years.
In the third quarter, Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis threw a missile pass to wide receiver Peter LeBlanc for a 78-yard touchdown reception, setting the score 17-14 with the extra point attempt. The Manning Preseason listee threw for a total 154 yards.
The Cajuns made another astonishing play as Eric Garror scored with an 83-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, bringing the score 24-14.
It was obvious big plays that enabled the Cajuns to take the win, finalizing the score 31-14.
After the game, UL head coach Billy Napier said, “You can’t underestimate a Sun Belt Conference team anymore. It’s become a normal thing. You put a Sun Belt team on your schedule, you better watch out.”
This proud statement from Napier does not go without mentioning the late assistant coach D.J. Looney, who passed away before the season started. Napier said, “I can’t help but think my man D.J. is up there smiling right now.”
Next up, the Ragin’ Cajuns played away from home against Georgia State in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday, Sept. 19. This game started the season for the Georgia State Panthers.
Historically, including the win this past week, Louisiana remains undefeated against Georgia State 4-0.
The Panthers scored first with a 12-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter from redshirt freshman Cornelius Brown IV. This touchdown marks the first score of his college career.
Cornelius Brown proceeds to assist his team in scoring by throwing a 28-yard touchdown, leaving 13 minutes and 25 seconds left in the second quarter.
Just as the game seems to be getting away from the Cajuns, Levi Lewis makes an astonishing 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith under extreme pressure. This play climbed the score to 14-7 and from here we see that the Cajuns would not go down without a fight.
As the second half progressed, the scoring remained in Georgia State favor being 21-7. The Cajuns cut the score to 21-14 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kyren Lacy. The Cajuns scored again with a lengthy 59-yard run from Elijah Mitchell tying the score 21-21.
The hard-fought game moved to overtime with Georgia State scoring first with a field goal setting the score 31-28.
The Cajuns sealed the game with a needed touchdown from Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell ran 12 yards into the endzone making for another exciting win over Georgia State. The Cajuns remain undefeated in a huge response win.