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Junior College Football
Louisiana's Ragin'Cajuns Sideline View
The Sports Xchange
Fox Sports Contributor
Posted Sep 27, 2011
Through Louisiana's first three games under new coach Mark Hudspeth, the Ragin' Cajuns relied on a playmaking defense and strong kicking game to start get off to a 2-1 start. A once-sputtering offense finally clicked in during the fourth game of the Hudspeth era on Saturday, lifting the Cajuns to a 36-31 shootout win over defending Sun Belt Conference champion Florida International.
accounted for three touchdowns and 307 of the team's season-high 419 yards of total offense to help the Cajuns (3-1) to their third straight win and best start since 1988.
"I knew what our offense was capable of when everybody was on the same page and the communication was there," said linebacker
after the Cajuns won to match last season's win total. "They proved it against a really good defense."
Gautier made the most critical plays against FIU's defense, which hadn't allowed more than 17 points in wins this season over
. Named the starter earlier in the week over senior
, Gautier passed for 221 yards and three touchdowns. The athletic junior also rushed for a team-high 86 yards.
"I thought Blaine played about as well as he could play," Hudspeth said of Gautier. "He took care of the ball, made some great throws, executed and managed the offense well and didn't force things. I thought the kids responded well to him."
With Gautier at the helm the Cajuns got a much-needed spark in their conference opener after gaining a combined 439 yards in the previous two games. Gautier had touchdown passes to
(41 yards), Darryl Surgent (22 yards) and
(46 yards) as the Cajuns made a statement for more than just wearing their new black helmets against preseason Sun Belt favorite FIU.
Going into the contest Gautier had thrown for 212 yards this season and the Cajuns ranked eighth out of nine Sun Belt teams in total offense.
"We knew that we could get it (the ball) deep," Gautier said. "It was great to have that deep threat all night."
The Panther had trimmed their deficit to 29-24 early in the fourth quarter before Gautier found Lawson for a 36-24 lead. FIU added a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cajuns stopped the Panthers twice in the final four minutes to win the thriller.
Ahead for the Cajuns is a three-game homestand, starting on Oct. 1 against
at Cajun Field.
"This was a big win for our football program," Hudspeth said. "We knew coming in that this would be a yardstick for our team, for how far we've come and for how far we still have to go."
had "JLS" initialed onto his coaching shirt. Those are the initials of his father, Jay Stewart, who recently died. Stewart missed practice earlier in the week to attend his father's funeral in
--At 3-1, the Cajuns are off to their best start since opening the 1988 season with a 4-0 mark. They finished 6-5 that season under coach Nelson Stokley, whose son
now plays in the NFL for the
New York Giants
was 2-of-2 on field goals and 4-of-4 on extra points against FIU. He also placed five of his eight punts inside FIU's 20-yard line.
rushed for 34 yards on a fake punt late in the first quarter for a first down. It was the second trick play this season that involved the converted QB. McGuire tossed a 43-yard pass to WR Javone Lawson in a season-opening loss at nationally ranked
KEEP AN EYE ON:
QB Blaine Gautier -- The junior was terrific after being named the starter earlier in the week. Gautier passed for 221 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 86 yards on 15 carries.
The offense finally put it all together with Gautier at the controls. The Cajuns racked up a season-high 419 yards and scored 36 points. WR Javone Lawson had 77 yards receiving on three catches, including a 46-yard touchdown. TE Ladarius Green caught three passes for 56 yards, with a 41-yard touchdown. RB
ran for 54 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Four different Cajuns had seven tackles. S
ended FIU's final drive with an interception.
STILL NEEDS WORK:
The Cajuns had a tough time stopping FIU, which gained 414 yards despite limited action from QB
and WR T.Y. Hilton. FIU got 157 rushing yards and three touchdowns from RB
. Penalties were also a problem as the Cajuns were flagged 11 times for 106 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"We knew that if we could get this game into the fourth quarter we would win. Every day we've been practicing to be a fourth quarter team and I could not be more proud of my team."
-- Cajuns coach
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
TE Ladarius Green
, a returning All-American, finally made an impact for the Cajuns this season. The senior caught three passes for 56 yards and one touchdown, a 41-yard reception in the second quarter. He had one catch for minus-1 yard in two games this year after suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for one game.
RB Alonzo Harris
had a strong night in his first collegiate start. The freshman rushed 10 times for 54 yards and scored his first touchdown with the Cajuns on a 13-yard run in the third quarter. Harris rushed for a career-high 78 yards on 11 carries against Nicholls State on Sept. 17.
K/P Brett Baer
is now 7-of-7 on field goals this season and 14-of-14 for his career. On extra points, the junior is 15-of-15 this year and 38-of-38 at this level.
S Lionel Stokes
sealed the win with an interception of QB Jake Medlock at the Cajuns' 17-yard line on the game's final play. It was Stokes' second interception of the season. The senior scored on a 63-yard interception return against
on Sept. 10.
QB Blaine Gautier
missed one series in the second quarter with a bruised shin. The junior returned for the next drive and played the rest of the game.
forced a fumble by QB Jake Medlock after sacking him on FIU's final drive. Onyenekwu, a starter earlier this season, had missed the previous two games with a lower-leg injury.
Gautier Named Sun Belt Offensive POW
Sep 26, 2011
UL Looks to Make it Four Straight
Sep 28, 2011
Louisiana Holds On For Upset
Sep 25, 2011
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