The game of football owes a lot of its allure to the element of chaos on any given play. The possibility of a long run, a blocked kick, a pick-six, or other big plays is what fans are hoping to see (if their team benefits, of course). This chaos seems to be inherent in college football as the players are not professional athletes, and they are still grooming their athletic skills. Often times the athletes may find themselves in a situation where players around them are suddenly moving at a completely different level of speed and intensity than what they are used to and they have yet to fully adapt.
That is one reasonable explanation as to why the seemingly lackluster rivalry game played between LA-Lafayette and UL-Monroe on December 3, 2016 at Malone Stadium had some wonderful flashes of chaos that served to remind college football fans why this sport is such an entertaining experience.
A torrential downpour
Throwing a football to a moving wide receiver is hard enough when there are eleven defenders trying to prevent the completion. Doing so in pouring rain? Nearly impossible. That was the case for both the Ragin’ Cajuns of UL-Lafayette and the Warhwaks of UL-Monroe on this day, as the rain was a major effector of how the game played out. For better or worse, 1.96 in. of precipitation in Monroe, Louisiana, was felt by both teams. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ were fortunate enough to belong to the beneficial part of that dichotomy.
The Ragin’ Cajuns took full advantage of the adverse effects the weather had on the opposing offense. The second quarter saw two fumbles returned for touchdowns by Lafayette, one by defensive lineman Otha Peters and one by linebacker Trev Miller. Touchdowns by players who don’t get many chances to score touchdowns are, in fact, the best kind of touchdowns. That very notion is immortalized every year by the piesman trophy.
A glaringly abhorrent stat was the combined 31 total passing yards for both teams. All of those yards were recorded by Caleb Evans of the Warhawks; Anthony Jennings of the Ragin’ Cajuns recorded zero yards despite two completions on five attempts.
If one were inclined to get metaphysical, the top receiver for LA-Lafayette on that day was senior safety Justin Backus for UL-Monroe. He took an intercepted pass from Jennings for 18 yards, the only positive yards recorded on the day as a direct result of a LA-Lafayette passing attempt. Obviously that’s not how football statistics work, but it’s a creative way to emphasize just how ineffective passing was for both teams. Which leads us to...
Run the dang ball
The game plan quickly devolved to picking up a few yards here and there with short runs for both teams. Elijah McGuire had 28 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown as Lafayette rushed for 240 rushing yards total. This was not the most exciting of paths for the game to take, but Lafayette already had both the score and the momentum in their favor early. Thus, it became a simple effort to run out the clock.
Kicking Reigns Supreme
Passing the football is difficult in a downpour, but let us not forget that kicking the football can prove to be just as much of a headache. Luckily for Lafayette, sophomore kicker Stevie Artigue was perfect on the day with three extra points and three field goals. Artigue accounted for 12 points by himself, leading both teams on the day.
30 Point Threshold
It is notable to mention that scoring 30 points in a game was a feat that Lafayette only accomplished in five out of 13 games during the 2016 season. It took multiple overtimes in two of those games to reach that threshold, including a quadruple-overtime bout against Tulane.
It might be obvious to many that a game such as this can be viewed as a statistical outlier, being that a vast majority of contests will not be subject to such weather restrictions.
The weather restrictions are simply adversity taking on one of its many forms. Adversity is one of the intangible aspects of college football that make it so enthralling. Doing so against a rival with a bowl game on the line makes it even better.