Cajuns use goal-line stand to hold off Troy
One of the most famous analogies in sports is, “offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”
That was definitely true in the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns’ nationally televised showdown against Troy.
Terrance Broadway threw for a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another two to lead a balanced offensive attack, and Louisiana-Lafayette used a late goal-line stand to hold off the Trojans, 41-36, in a Sun Belt Conference game Thursday at Cajun Field.
The thrilling victory by Louisiana (7-2, 4-0 Sun Belt) before a crowd of 22,562 was the seventh straight for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who solidified their lead in the Sun Belt Conference with three games remaining.
Louisiana-Lafayette built a 41-29 lead when Broadway scored on a 2-yard run with 14:57 remaining before Troy (5-5, 3-3 Sun Belt) fought back.
After Will Scott missed a 42-yard field goal that halted a 10-play drive, the Trojans forced Louisiana-Lafayette to punt on its next possession and got a break when a bad snap was recovered by Troy’s Eli Canton at the UL 13.
Six plays later, Corey Robinson found Eric Thomas in the left corner of the end zone that cut the Ragin’ Cajuns lead to 41-36 with 6:59 remaining in the game.
Troy forced the Ragin’ Cajuns into a second three-and-out on the next possession and took over at its own 15 with 5:22 remaining. Troy was aided by a pair of calls that were reversed by instant replay.
On the Trojans’ fourth play of an eventual 11-play drive, Robinson’s pass was nearly intercepted by Louisiana’s Trevance Patt but was overturned. On the following play, Thomas was credited with a 32-yard reception to the UL 40 after he initially was ruled to have caught the ball out of bounds.
Brandon Burks added runs of 16 and 21 yards for the Trojans to move the ball to the UL 8 and a pair of runs got the ball to the 4. But Patt knocked away a pair of Robinson passes on the next two plays, including a fourth-down throw to Thomas in the left corner of the end zone that allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to run out the clock.
While Troy outscored Louisiana-Lafayette, 10-6, in the final 30 minutes, the first half saw plenty of scoring as the Ragin’ Cajuns opened with a 21-6 lead before taking a 35-26 advantage at halftime.
After a 39-yard field goal by Scott gave Troy a 3-0 lead with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter, Louisiana-Lafayette drove 75 yards in five plays to take a 7-3 lead.
Broadway, who finished 8-for-13 for 185 yards, opened the drive with a 23-yard completion to Jamal Robinson to the UL 48 before a pair of rushes by Alonzo Harris and a 7-yard scramble by Broadway moved the ball to the Troy 38.
On the following play, freshman Elijah McGuire took a handoff off right tackle and sprinted past the Trojan defense for a touchdown that gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a lead it would not lose.
The Cajuns pushed their lead to 14-3 when Darryl Surgent fielded a Scott punt at the UL 33, worked his way across the field and sprinted down the right sideline for a 67-yard return — his second career punt return for a score and first since an 87-yard return against San Diego State in the 2011 New Orleans Bowl.
Troy scored on its next possession as Scott drilled a 53-yard field goal with 4:09 remaining, but two plays and 37 seconds later, Louisiana-Lafayette found the end zone again.
After starting the drive at its own 35, Broadway ran up the middle for 5 yards to the UL 40 before he connected with McGuire on a 60-yard touchdown strike
Troy added a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter as Jordan Chunn scored on a 1-yard plunge and Robinson connected with B.J. Chitty on a 6-yard pass that cut the Louisiana-Lafayette lead to 28-20 with 4:03 remaining in the half.
Broadway, who scored on an 11-yard run earlier in the quarter, drove the Ragin’ Cajuns to the Troy 36 on the ensuing possession late in the half but was flushed out of the pocket and his pass was picked off by Troy’s Camred Hudson took the interception 65 yards untouched to the end zone to cut the deficit to 28-26.
But Broadway quickly redeemed himself on the following drive as he led Louisiana-Lafayette on a three-play, 61-yard drive to put the Cajuns up 35-26 at halftime.
Completions of 7 and 18 yards to James Butler put the ball on the Troy 36 where Broadway connected with Efrem Reed on a screen pass and the sophomore raced untouched down the left sideline to cap a 39-second drive.
Louisiana-Lafayette, which entered the game averaging 544 yards of total offense in three games at Cajun Field, was held to 378, including a season-low 193 rushing. McGuire led the Ragin’ Cajuns ground attack with 82 yards on seven carries, while Harris added 64 yards and Broadway, 63.
Butler caught a team-high four passes for Louisiana-Lafayette, which improved to 14-1 at Cajun Field in three seasons under head coach Mark Hudspeth.
Robinson, directing the league’s top offensive unit, completed 25 of 44 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. Burks gained 126 yards on 15 carries for the Trojans, while Thomas and K.D. Edenfield caught five passes apiece.
Louisiana-Lafayette will return to action Nov. 16 when it travels to face league newcomer Georgia State in a 1 p.m. contest in the Georgia Dome.