After an overtime win against the Georgia State Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 26, The Cajuns won big again with a final score of 20-18 at Cajun Field. This marked their first win at home for the season, continuing their hot undefeated season.
Despite having nine players out due to COVID-19-related issues, the Cajuns remain undefeated (3-0) and will remain No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference.
“We didn’t play with near the roster we had in the opener, but we had a lot of players who played for the first time that stepped up and had a significant role. I’m proud of the young guys that stepped up,” Ragin’ Cajuns Head Coach Billy Napier said, according to AP News.
Elijah Mitchel, who had an unbelievable performance against Georgia State with 164 yards, two touchdowns on eight carries, and scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime, was one of the players who could not play. The playmaking running back would sit out this week against Georgia State due to COVID-19-related issues. Regardless, the Cajuns showed versatility in their run game as they used Chris Smith, Trey Ragas, and true freshman Emani Bailey. Each of these players got carries throughout the game.
Trey Ragas got the Cajuns on the scoreboard with a 10-yard run tying the score 7-7 in favor of Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern took the lead in the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal. With 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the Cajuns tied the score again 10-10 with a 25-yard field goal. At this point, Cajun fans are left biting their nails and waiting on the edge of their seats as the score continues to repeat being tied.
During the fourth quarter, The Cajuns took the lead once again with a 27-yard touchdown pass caught by Wide Receiver Errol Rodgers Jr. The score was now 17-10 with the extra point attempt from Nate Snyder. Georgia Southern attempted to kick a 41-yard field goal but missed leaving 8:03 left in the game. With a lot of time left, the game proved to be not over yet as Georgia Sothern’s quarterback, Shai Werts, threw a pass to Tight End Beau Johnson for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
Before Johnson crossed the endzone, he fumbled, resulting in a review for the touchdown called play. It would be reversed as the review showed Johnson lost control of the ball at the 2-yard line holding the lead for the Cajuns. Even though the touchdown pass would be reversed, Shai Lewis proceeded to throw a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Khaleb Hood for an unbelievable one-handed catch. With 54 seconds remaining, Georgia Southern skips the attempt for victory in overtime with a 2-point conversion, setting the score 18-17.
Despite only having 54 seconds left, The Cajuns proved why they were No. 1 in their conference with a series of passes. Quarterback Levi Lewis completes a pass to running back Trey Ragas for 19 yards getting the first down. He then completes another pass to Errol Rodgers Jr., who caught a touchdown pass earlier in the fourth quarter, for 12 yards. Lewis threw again to Trey Ragas 18 yards getting the Cajuns to the 36-yard line. After two incomplete passes and 2 seconds remaining, it is up to place kicker Nate Snyder to keep their winning streak alive.
As Cajuns’ fans kept their fingers crossed, Nate Snyder completed the far-flung 53-yard field goal attempt sending the team and fans in utmost joy. Not only does this get the win, but sets a career record for Nate Snyder in distance for his kicks.
Nate Snyder redeemed himself with his game-winning kick as he missed three of his four field-goal attempts in the Cajuns’ first two games.
“You can see the leg talent when he kicks off. He’s a very talented young man who had just made some technical errors. You don’t make a 53-yarder if you don’t have the confidence,” Napier said, according to AP News.
“The second I hit it, I knew it was good. I was halfway to the sideline before it went through,” Snyder said, according to AP News. This confidence enabled the Cajuns to remain undefeated and show everyone the talent they have.
With the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams starting their seasons this past week, the Cajuns lost their No.19 ranking, but remain No.1 in the Sun Belt Conference. This big win over Georgia Southern will carry the anticipation to their game next week against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.