The Thundering Herd were favored by 7.5 heading into their midweek home clash against the visiting Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Louisiana running back Chris Smith was a late scratch due to an injury, adding to anxiety for Cajuns’ fans. However, Michael Desormeaux’s team picked up the slack to earn their first Sun Belt victory of the year. The final score was 23-13.
It would end up being a career game for Fresno State transfer quarterback Ben Wooldridge, who made his first college start in this game. Wooldridge would finish with 17 completions on 29 attempts with 230 passing yards and two touchdowns. Wooldridge would also finish as the team’s leading rusher with 45 yards on ten attempts.
By picking up the victory, the Cajuns avoid losing four games in a row. Louisiana has not lost that many consecutive games since 2015.
Louisiana got on the scoreboard first with a 42-yard field goal on their second drive of the game. Marshall missed a field goal to tie it at the start of the second quarter, though the Herd would eventually take the 7-3 lead with a Khalan Laborn touchdown with about four minutes left in the first half.
The second half was delayed due to weather by about an hour. Marshall was intercepted by Louisiana’s Bralen Trahan on their first drive of the third quarter. The Louisiana defense now has 11 interceptions, which is tied for second in all of FBS.
BRALEN TRAHAN WITH THE HAMMER pic.twitter.com/QpYEASoi6t— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) October 13, 2022
The third quarter was where the Louisiana offense seemed to kick things into gear. Dontae Fleming caught a six-yard touchdown in the third from Wooldridge, giving them a lead they would not relinquish. Louisiana would extend the lead on a 33-yard field goal later in the quarter by Kenneth Almendares.
Almendares would also add a 52 yarder later in the game and finish 3-3 on the evening.
Marshall’s offensive performance attracted boos from the home crowd at several points in the second half. Starting quarterback Henry Colombi was eventually replaced by Cam Fancher, the redshirt freshman out of Wayne High School in Ohio.
The biggest offensive bright spot of the evening for the Herd was the performance of running back Khalan Laborn, who finished with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. That makes six games in a row with 100 rushing yards or more by Laborn.
Michael Jefferson capped off another lengthy Louisiana drive with a receiving touchdown from Wooldridge from 32 yards out with about ten minutes remaining.
Laborn picked up a short touchdown run to shrink Louisiana’s lead by six, but the Herd would fail to pick up the two-point conversion. While the Marshall defense would pick up an important stop on the next drive, Fancher would lose a fumble on a fourth down, giving the Cajuns the opportunity to run the clock out.
Fancher was 7-9 for 69 yards through the air and ran for ten yards on five attempts.
The Herd are back at it next Saturday when they travel to #25 James Madison. The Cajuns have a home game against Arkansas State that same day.