Struggling yet again on offense, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns got a big defensive stop in the fourth quarter and beat the Georgia State Panthers 23-21 Saturday in Atlanta.
This win moved the Ragin' Cajuns to 4-4 on the season while dropping Georgia State to 2-6.
The game could not have started any better for the Cajuns as they took their opening possession and drove 52 yards to the Georgia State 23. After failing on third down, Stevie Artigue drilled a 40-yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.
A great special teams play forced Georgia State to start on their own six-yard line, followed by the defense quickly forcing a three and out. Travis Crawford proceeded to block the punt attempt by Will Lutz, with Montrel Carter recovering in the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT gave Louisiana a 10-0 early lead.
The Panthers, needing a good reaction, rode the arm of Nick Arbuckle to the Ragin' Cajuns eight-yard line. Arbuckle found Keith Rucker in the end zone for a touchdown to pull Georgia State within three points at 10-7.
A 12-play, 75-yard drive by Louisiana followed, with Brooks Haack showing off his passing ability as he completed three big passes on the drive. The third completion was a four-yard touchdown pass to Al Riles to extend the lead to 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After a punt by Georgia State gave then great position at their own 49-yard line, the Ragin' Cajuns decided to give Jalen Nixon a chance at quarterback. The junior led the offense to the 37-yard line before tossing a pass to Panther safety Bobby Baker. Seven plays later, the Panther were within three points once again on a Arbuckle to Rucker three yard touchdown, Rucker's second of the day.
Though Haack returned in the next series, the momentum was seized by Georgia State with the ball and a chance to tie the game at the half. The Panthers drove 88 yards to the Louisiana eight before trotting out the field goal unit. The 25-yard field goal was no good, send the game to halftime with Louisiana leading 17-14.
After a pair of early punts, Georgia State took their first lead of the game on a 12-play, 86-yard touchdown drive. The drive was capped by a touchdown pass to Donovan Harden that gave the Panthers a 21-17 lead.
The Ragin' Cajuns responded with a hard fought 12 play drive that resulted in a 49-yard field goal attempt by Artigue. His kick was good, pulling Louisiana within one at 21-20. Georgia State had a chance to extend their lead on the next drive, but missed a 36-yard field goal, giving life to Louisiana yet again.
As if missing two field goals was not enough help given to the wrong team, the Panthers made the biggest blunder of the game on the next series. Facing a fourth and five on their own 24-yard line, the Panthers faked a punt and did not earn a first down, giving Louisiana the ball 23 yards from paydirt.
The Cajuns had to settle for a 21-yard field goal, but took the lead 23-21 with that kick.
The defense came up big in the last two drives of the night, forcing a punt on the first and intercepting Arbuckle on the second. The interception by Savion Brown essentially ended the game. Georgia State did get one final play from their own 20-yard line that fell incomplete, giving Louisiana a 23-21 win.
The Ragin' Cajuns have a chance to get above .500 for the first time all season Thursday night when they travel to South Alabama. Kickoff for the nationally televised game is at 6:30 PM CST.