Entering the 2021 season, Louisiana and Appalachian State had faced off a total of 9 times. From 2014 to 2019, the Mountaineers won the first eight matchups, including two Sun Belt Championship games.
When the Ragin’ Cajuns finally got the monkey off their backs last year by winning 24-21 in overtime in Boone, virtually none of their fans were in attendance at Kidd Brewer Stadium due to strict COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, you can imagine the excitement level fans had entering Tuesday night’s nationally televised game with App State traveling to Lafayette.
Over 20,000 fans entered Cajun Field to support their defending 2020 Sun Belt co-champions. But despite their success in 2020, and the fact that they were playing a home game, oddsmakers still had Appalachian State as four-point favorites. I talked with several fans prior to kickoff, and trust me when I say this fact was a HUGE talking point.
“No respect,” was the common theme among Cajun enthusiasts and they were absolutely certain the prognosticators would be proven wrong.
Much to the delight of the Louisiana faithful, the team made an immediate statement. QB Levi Lewis scored on a three-yard TD run to score the game’s first points. And after the Mountaineers followed with a field goal, Louisiana tacked on two more touchdowns before the end of the first 15 minutes. App State tallied the only points in the second quarter with another field goal to make it 20-6 at the half.
Fans I spoke with at halftime were feeling very confident Stats backed up that feeling as well. Under Coach Billy Napier, Louisiana was 32-5 when scoring 20+ points and 25-1 when allowing less than 25 points - very solid data to back up their confidence.
The teams traded TD’s in the third quarter, but Louisiana finally dropped the hammer in the fourth. They scored two TD’s in the span of 2:22 to run their lead to an insurmountable 41-13 advantage.
With the game no longer in doubt, the home crowd spent the last eight or so minutes in celebration mode. The student section, located right behind the Appalachian State bench, was very vocal. The energy amongst the fans on the grassy hill in the end zone was palpable, and virtually no one had left early.
Unlike 2020 when only 2,107 fans were in attendance at Kidd Brewer to witness Louisiana’s breakthrough win, the 20,000 who came out on Tuesday finally witnessed a victory over the Mountaineers, a statement win that puts Louisiana in a great position to advance to the Sun Belt Championship game on December 4th.
I love these weeknight Sun Belt games: a great idea that allows these schools to be the sole focus of the college football world for a night. #FunBelt games just feel different, almost like a party atmosphere. On this night, Louisiana fans at Cajun Field thoroughly enjoyed their celebration of redemption.