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Louisiana football wins home opener versus Liberty Flames

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Freshman Peter Leblanc gains some yards as the Ragin' Cajuns take on the Liberty Flames on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

The Louisiana football team earned their first win of the 2019 season in their home opener, beating the Liberty Flames 35-14 to improve their record to 1-1.

However, the game didn’t start out as well as the score indicated. For the second straight week, the Ragin’ Cajuns defense gave up a touchdown on their opening drive of the game, and Louisiana was in another early 7-0 hole.

A missed 42-yard field goal by Ragin’ Cajuns kicker Stevie Artigue on Louisiana’s opening drive was answered by the first interception of the season for senior defensive back Michael Jacquet, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns good field position to start their second drive.

Artigue then missed a 44-yard field goal to keep Louisiana scoreless with their two offensive drives going into Liberty territory early in the game.

Finally, the Ragin’ Cajuns broke through with a 19-yard touchdown run on third and long by starting quarterback Levi Lewis to tie the game up at the end of the first quarter.

A fumble by Louisiana receiver Jamal Bell in the red zone continued the Ragin’ Cajuns offensive struggles in opposing territory, and the defense finally bent. Liberty answered the big stand by their defense with a 66-yard touchdown run to retake the lead 14-7, but that would be their last score of the game.

Ragin’ Cajuns running back Trey Ragas tied the game in one explosive play: a 75-yard touchdown rumble to make it 14-14 in the second quarter.

After Louisiana’s defense forced their third punt of the first half, another Ragin’ Cajuns drive led to another missed field goal by Artigue, his third miss of the first half.

Louisiana’s last drive of the first half was one of their most impressive of the game: an eight-play, 84-yard drive in just under two minutes gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 21-14 lead after a sloppy first half of turnovers and missed opportunities.

The offense opened the second half with two consecutive scoring drives to extend the lead to 35-14, and the defense forced three turnover-on-downs in the second half to give Louisiana their first victory of the season.

Lewis completed 15 of his 23 passing attempts for 179 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also recorded his second rushing touchdown this season. His favorite target, Ja’Marcus Bradley, caught six passes for a game-high 110 yards and two touchdowns. However, the real story of the offense was the rushing attack.

Louisiana as a team recorded 407 rushing yards on 46 attempts, gashing the Liberty defense early and often. Ragas led the way with 129 yards and a touchdown on nine rushes. Senior Raymond Calais added 111 yards on eight rushes with his longest rush being 68 yards.

Even with some sloppy play and missed opportunities, the Ragin’ Cajuns earned a three-touchdown win at home against Liberty with stout defense and an unrelenting offense.

Up next, Louisiana looks to reach 2-1 when they host the Texas Southern Tigers on Saturday night.

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