Louisiana-Lafayette’s Alonzo Harris and Elijah McGuire ran for 372 yards combined to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns past Arkansas State on Tuesday night. McGuire was especially impressive with 265 yards and 4 touchdowns rushing on 19 carries in the 55-40 win.
The fireworks started early with Arkansas State’s Fredi Knighten outrunning the defense to the end zone on a quarterback keeper to make it 6-0. The extra point would be no good, as it hit off the goal post.
The Ragin’ Cajuns came down the field with a touchdown of their own courtesy of Alonzo Harris from 4 yards out to make it 6-6. Hunter Stover had his extra point blocked in an odd beginning for both kickers.
Arkansas State ended up getting a field goal on the next possession to take a 9-6 lead, but they would soon find themselves trailing after another touchdown run from Harris (22 yards) to make it 13-9 in favor of Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Red Wolves had a fantastic chance to at least get a field goal, but J.D. McKissic’s pass for Tres Houston on the trick play was a bit too long. Several plays later, Knighten threw an interception on a screen pass that was brought back to the one yard line. Harris pounded the ball on the next play and it became a 20-9 lead.
The Ragin’ Cajuns extended the lead even further after forcing a punt. On the fourth play of the drive, McGuire burst through the opening in the line and no one was going to catch as he ran for a 74 yard touchdown. McGuire would add his second touchdown on the following drive with a punishing 13 yard run and UL-Lafayette had a commanding 34-9 lead with less than 9 minutes left in the first half.
The Red Wolves began the comeback with Michael Gordon’s 70 yard touchdown run to make it 34-16. The play was very odd looking as Gordon landed on top of his own lineman and then ran into the end zone. The officials ruled he never was not down and replay confirmed the call. After forcing a punt, Arkansas State cut the lead to 34-23 when Knighten found Dijon Paschal behind the defense for an 87 yard touchdown pass.
Despite all the fireworks, there would not be any scoring in the final 4:29 of the second quarter.
The third quarter, and most of the second half, would lack the same amount of offensive firepower that was showcased in the first twenty-five minutes of the game. The only touchdown of the third quarter came as a result of an odd playcall by Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. On fourth and 11 from his own 8 yard line, he called a fake punt that resulted in a two yard loss. Two plays later, Harris ran in for his fourth touchdown from four yards out and the Ragin’ Cajuns extended their lead to 41-23.
After a 17 play drive, the Red Wolves hit a field goal with 10:10 remaining to make it a 41-26 game, but there was still plenty of work left to do. They would, however, force a punt and get the ball back with 7:56 left on the clock. The Red Wolves would get another touchdown with Knighten hitting Pachal for a 6 yard touchdown. However, with the score at 41-32, Anderson decided to go for two and it would go horribly wrong. That left the Red Wolves down by 9 points with 5:37 left.
In the end, the two point try would be a moot point. McGuire once again burned the Red Wolves’ defense with a 43 yard streak to the end zone and a 48-32 lead. The Red Wolves would answer with a touchdown. On fourth and goal from the 12, Knighten hit Houston for the score on the edge of the end zone. They would convert the two point conversion to make it 48-40 in favor of UL-Lafayette, but the running game would put this game beyond doubt.
On third and 10 from the UL-Lafayette 46 yard line, McGuire went off the right side and once again ran away from the defense, just as he had done so many times previously in this game. That would cap the scoring at 55-40 and a big win for Louisiana-Lafayette.
Fredi Knighten went 26 of 37 for 344 yards with 3 touchdown passes and an interception. He also carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Michael Gordon had 134 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. J.D. McKissic had one carry for 55 yards, but he was electric throughout the night. McKissic also caught 7 passes for 99 yards. The leading receiver was Dijon Paschal with 8 catches for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tres Houston also caught 5 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Terrance Broadway had a quiet night at quarterback, but with the running game he was provided it was expected. Broadway went 9 of 17 for 102 yards with no touchdowns and no turnovers. He also ran 8 times for 38 yards. His top receiver was James Butler with one catch for 34 yards. C.J. Bates caught two passes for 28 yards.
The true story of this game was the Louisiana-Lafayette running game. Elijah McGuire ran for 265 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns on 19 carries. He had an average of 13.9 yards per carry. Alonzo Harris ran 27 times for 107 yards and 4 touchdowns. The entire team ran for 419 yards and 8 touchdowns on 56 carries for an average of 7.5 yards per carry.
Arkansas State (4-3, 2-1) has extra time off to prepare for their next opponent in Idaho. They will travel to face them on November 1.
Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3, 3-0) is now on a three game winning streak. They have their homecoming game on November 1 against South Alabama.