Saturday night saw the Sun Belt preseason favorite Ragin' Cajuns pick up their first win, in over a month. Louisiana was able to hang on and defeat Georgia State by a slim three point margin, when the clock hit zero Louisiana walked away 34-31 winners.
Over 24,000 members of the Cajun nation would watch a see-saw battle, in which the outcome would not be determined until the last drive of the game. Louisiana fired the opening salvo when Elijah McGuire scampered 54 yards around right end to give the Cajuns an early 7-0 lead. The big play gave the Cajuns their first lead since opening week of the 2014 season.
Georgia State would answer with a long 16 play, 91 yard drive that was capped by a 1 yard Duvall Smith run. The remaining minutes of the first quarter, and much of the second would see the teams trade possessions, without any scoring. The Panthers broke the tie when Marcus Caffey hit pay dirt from 12 yards out.
Not to be outdone, quarterback Terrance Broadway immediately took his team down field looking to answer the Panther score. Broadway and the Cajuns would do just that as he connected with favorite target Jamal Robinson for a 19 yard score. Robinson, the senior from New Orleans was seeing his first action since having knee surgery after the Louisiana Tech game. The Panthers would counter with a field goal and take 17-14 lead into the locker room.
When the Cajuns got the ball to start the third quarter, Terrance Broadway and company looked like the team they were hyped up to be. Louisiana embarked on a 13 play 73 yard drive the culminated with an Alonzo Harris one yard run on 4th and goal. Louisiana was back on top 21-17. The next two drives would see each team trade punts. But with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter, Georgia State tailback Marcus Caffey found the end zone for the second time. The two yard run put the Panthers up 24-21.
As the final period began, Louisiana again was able to find its way down the field and regain the lead. Five different Cajuns would touch the ball before Alonzo Harris reached the end zone for the second time, giving Louisiana a 28-24 lead. The see-saw would soon be back on Georgia State's side however. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle would lead a 10 play 75 yard touchdown drive to put the Panthers back in front. Marcus Caffey crossed into the end zone for the third time, giving the Panthers a 31-28 lead with just 6:35 to play.
As what would be the final drive began, Louisiana's backup quarterback Brooks Haack was under center. Terrance Broadway had hurt himself earlier in the quarter and was not available. The redshirt junior stayed cool under pressure, and marched the Cajuns down the field. He was helped along the way with HUGE plays by tight end Larry Pettis and slot receiver Al Riles. After a time out with the Cajuns at the George State 21 yard line, Terrance Broadway re-entered the game. Broadway then immediately hit Jamal Robinson with a 21 yard bomb to give the Cajuns a 34-31 lead. Hunter Stover would fail to convert the extra point try.
Louisiana was 3:34 away from victory.
The Cajun defense would force a fourth and six with 1:14 to play (after back to back illegal formation infractions wiped out two huge GSU plays). Panther QB Nick Arbuckle hit Robert Davis with a quick underneath route but Louisiana's Tracy Walker saved the day. His second tackle of the day stopped Davis two yards short of the line to gain. Louisiana would then run out the clock to secure a heart pounding 34-31 victory.
With the win Louisiana improved to 2-3 on the year and 1-0 in Sun Belt play. Georgia State dropped to 1-4 on the season and 0-2 in Sun Belt competition.
Saturday was the first time since week one that the Cajuns seemed confident when they had the ball. Terrance Broadway limited his mistakes and seemed to be much more accurate when throwing the ball. Getting Jamal Robinson back proved to be the jolt the Cajuns were looking for, to jump start the faltering offense.
On defense, Louisiana didn't give up the big play like they had in their previous three games. More importantly, Louisiana got a stop when they had to have one.
Louisiana does not play this Saturday but will be back in action on Tuesday, October 14th. The Cajuns will travel to face the Texas State Bobcats for the first of back to back nationally televised contests.