Our series on the top five Redemption Games in the Sun Belt concludes with perhaps the Battle of the Bayou’s greatest chapter…
#1 Louisiana vs. UL Monroe
Last year’s score: Louisiana 56, UL Monroe 50, Double OT
Chance for Redemption comes: November 24 at UL Monroe’s Malone Stadium
For those of you looking to keep score at home and develop your own checklist for “redemption games”, consider last year’s Louisiana vs. UL Monroe contest…
Bitter in-state rivals: check.
Historic rivals: check.
Great comeback: check.
Another overtime: check.
Walk-off touchdown: ch-well, you get the idea.
All. The. Checkmarks.
The Wooden Boot never felt as magnificent in Monroe as it did last season.
The wild win ended a three-year losing streak to their cross-state rivals in the Battle of the Bayou. And we nearly needed to talk about UL Monroe as the team in need of the most redemption this season.
A Caleb Evans touchdown run gave the Warhawks a 43-22 edge with 9:35 left to play in the game. It looked like a dagger at the time.
Louisiana, however, put together a 10-play scoring drive and followed it up with a seven-play drive that culminated in a Nunez pass to Jarrod Jackson. The Ragin’ Cajun defense forced a three-and-out with about two minutes left. The offense drove from their own 16-yard-line with time dwindling.
With no time remaining, backup quarterback Andre Nunez rolled to his left and found Ja’Marcus Bradley running across the back of the end zone for the tying score.
Falling behind by a touchdown in the first overtime, the Ragin’ Cajuns converted a fourth and seven on a pass to Keenan Barnes. Three plays later, a Nunez rushing touchdown tied the game once again at 50-50.
In the second overtime, The Warhawk defense stalled the Louisiana drive and forced a missed 39-yard field goal. Despite only needing a field goal of their own to win, UL Monroe left no doubt.
On a third and four from the eight-yard-line, running back Derrick Gore found a seam up the middle and barreled through two Louisiana defensive backs at the goal line for the walk-off score.
The teams combined for more than 1,100 yards of offense, 106 points and exactly zero turnovers.
Evans went for 343 yards and a touchdown through the air, and another 129 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Oh, and he will be back this year to try and do it all over again. Hard to think Louisiana recording zero sacks against the returning senior will not be addressed over and over again in the buildup to game time.
The Sun Belt’s best
I’d be shocked if the Warhawk-Ragin’ Cajun rivalry ever dipped out of the “top five redemption games” category, regardless of the previous year’s result.
If being the most-played rivalry in the Sun Belt was not enough, the Cajuns own a slim 27-25 all-time series edge. While last year’s game was played in Lafayette, this year’s late November matchup could have a conference championship or bowl berths on the line.
They are just a few more checks for the Sun Belt’s most redemption-filled, check-happy contest of 2018.