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Cajuns Win SBC West: Revisiting Louisiana’s Win Over Georgia State

Cajuns survive after a sloppy performance for most of the game

Andre Broussard/L’Acadien Yearbook

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTER

Georgia St FG 5:05Noel Ruiz 39 Yd Field Goal

12 plays, 71 yards, 5:15

3-0 Panthers HALF

THIRD QUARTER

Georgia St TD 8:46 Roger Carter 37 Yd pass from Darren Grainger (Noel Ruiz Kick)

3 plays, 52 yards, 0:54

10-0 Panthers

Louisiana TD 2:49 Peter LeBlanc 14 Yd pass from Levi Lewis (Nate Snyder Kick)

12 plays, 75 yards, 5:57

10-7 Panthers

FOURTH QUARTER

Louisiana TD 13:11 Montrell Johnson 3 Yd Run (Nate Snyder Kick)

6 plays, 51 yards, 2:24

14-10 Cajuns

Goegria St TD 5:25 Tucker Gregg 1 Yd Run (Noel Ruiz Kick)

16 plays, 76 yards, 7:46

17-14 Panthers

Louisiana TD 2:32 Montrell Johnson 13 Yd Run (Nate Snyder Kick)

8 plays, 71 yards, 2:53

Cajuns 21-17 FINAL


Thursday night was the same story that it’s been for most of the 2021 season for Louisiana: survive and advance.

The Cajuns did just that, escaping Georgia State 21-17 in a primetime ESPN Sun Belt matchup. With the win, Louisiana improves to 8-1 (6-0 SBC) and clinches their fourth consecutive Sun Belt West title in Billy Napier’s fourth season. This also makes Louisiana the only team in the Sun Belt to have accomplished this feat. In addition, Napier has now won 75% of his games as the head coach of the Cajuns.

Georgia state led 3-0 at the half. This marked the first time that the GSU defense held an opponent scoreless for an entire half since the Panthers shut out Charlotte in 2017.

“What a tough loss for our football team,” Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott said of his team’s performance. “They prepared hard, and they fought hard, but it just didn’t happen tonight. I’m extremely proud of our football team.”

Execution on Louisiana’s part was poor overall, with some questionable play calling thrown in. If the Cajuns want to be the host for the Sun Belt Championship game on December 4th, they will have to find a way to close games out earlier and not let teams hang around.

Levi Lewis was great on paper, but average in the game itself. The 5th year senior went 19-34 for 287 yards, 1 TDs and 1 INT. Peter Leblanc was his leading receiver tonight, hauling in 9 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in the contest. Montrell Johnson had another solid outing, rushing for 98 yards and two scores on 17 carries.

“Pete was banged up some last year, but we got him healthy now and he made some great plays,” Napier said of Leblanc’s night against the Panthers. “He did a really good job running after the catch.”

“We were sputtering all night on offense,” LeBlanc said after the game, “so it was great to be able to have those chances in the second half.”

Defensively for the Cajuns, Sophomore linebacker AJ Riley contributed a career-high two talks.

For the Panthers, Tucker Gregg kept them in this game, rushing for 99 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown. He was absent on Georgia State’s final drive, however, which is something to keep an eye on as to why. Darren Grainger had 98 yards and a touchdown on 8-19 passing. GSU tight end Roger Carter also caught his 12th career touchdown in this game, which also ended up being his 90th career reception, tying the program record for career receptions by a tight end.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Louisiana at South Alabama Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Up Next

Louisiana (8-1, 6-0 SBC) will travel to Troy (4-4, 2-2 SBC) next Saturday (2:30 pm CST, ESPN+)

Georgia State (4-5, 3-2 SBC) will head to Conway to take on Coastal Carolina (7-1, 3-1 SBC) next Saturday as well. (5:00 pm, ESPN+)