LAFAYETTE – Terrance Broadway and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns wanted to get off to a fast start in their Sun Belt Conference opener on Saturday against league newcomer Texas State.
Paced by a first-half onslaught by the junior quarterback, the Ragin' Cajuns scored on four of its first six possessions and defeated the Bobcats, 48-24, in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams on Saturday before an announced crowd of 23,108 at Cajun Field.
Broadway finished 18-for-23 for 335 yards and four touchdowns as Louisiana (3-2, 1-0) piled up 572 yards of total offense and won its sixth consecutive Sun Belt Conference opener. Jamal Robinson caught four passes for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Ragin' Cajuns while Alonzo Harris, Darryl Surgent, James Butler and Elijah McGuire each scored touchdowns.
"When you practice well, you typically play well and we had a great week of practice," Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "The off-week was beneficial and when we came back for game week it was very sharp. I think a couple days away refreshed their bodies and they were anxious to get back to practice.
"It showed tonight, we got off to a great start against a team that I was really concerned about because they had a lot of confidence after beating a Wyoming team that got off to a good start."
In the first half, Broadway put on a show against Texas State (3-2, 0-1 Sun Belt) as the Baton Rouge native completed 16 of 18 passes for 288 yards and three TDs in helping build a 28-3 lead.
After fumbling on its opening possession at the Texas State 31, the Ragin' Cajuns forced a Bobcat punt and immediately drove 70 yards in six plays to take a lead they would not relinquish. Broadway connected with Robinson on a 53-yard gain on third-and-5 to the Texas State 12 before Harris scored three plays later on a 4-yard run that gave Louisiana a 7-0 lead with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter.
After a 66-yard punt by Texas State's Zach Robinson was downed at the Ragin' Cajun 6-yard line, Louisiana needed five plays to reach the end zone for a commanding 14-0 lead. Broadway opened the drive with a 37-yard pass to Butler to the Louisiana 43 before he found Surgent wide open on a 44-yard scoring pass at the 4:06 mark.
Robinson, who caught a pair of TDs in a 35-30 victory at Akron on Sept. 21, capped a four-play, 51-yard drive in the second quarter when he grabbed a 34-yard pass from Broadway for a 21-0 lead with 8:24 remaining in the second quarter. The Slidell native added his sixth TD reception of the year on Louisiana's next possession as his 4-yard reception from Broadway capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
Effrem Reed kept the drive alive with a 6-yard reception to the UL 36 on third-and-5 and Broadway added completions of 11 yards to Butler and 23 yards to Devin Figaro before connecting with Robinson with 28 seconds remaining for a 28-3 lead at halftime.
Louisiana upped its lead to 38-3 after forcing a pair of Texas State turnovers to open the second half. On the opening kickoff, Al Riles forced and recovered a fumble by the Bobcats' Andy Erickson at the TXST 19 and the Ragin' Cajuns scored two plays later when Broadway hit Butler on a 20-yard scoring pass less than a minute into the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Justin Hamilton recovered a fumble by Tyler Jones at the TXST 16 and Louisiana capped the drive on a 32-yard field goal by Stephen Brauchle with 10:38 remaining.
After a 65-yard punt by Robinson placed the ball at the UL 1, the Ragin' Cajuns went on a 99-yard scoring drive that included 57 yards on the ground against a Bobcat defense that entered the game ranked No. 3 nationally among FBS schools in rushing defense allowing 62.0 yards per game.
Harris, who gained a game-high 78 yards on 16 carries, opened the drive for the Ragin' Cajuns with an 18-yard run off the right side and kept the drive alive with a 4-yard plunge on third-and-1. A 27-yard pass from Broadway to Jared Johnson, which was aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty, placed the ball at the TXST 22 and McGuire would cap the drive three plays later with a 4-yard TD run for a 45-3 lead with 3:56 remaining.
"I challenged our guys before they took the field," Hudspeth said. "I said 'Guys, we aren't facing 99 yards we are facing 99 and a half,' they don't officially score that as 99-and-a-half, but it was. I challenged our guys because we did it once last year and that was a huge statement to take the ball and drive it that long."
Texas State, which was held to 196 yards of total offense, scored in the second quarter when Jason Dann capped a 13-play, 64-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal that cut the Ragin' Cajun lead to 21-3 with 5:51 left in the second quarter.
The rest of the Bobcats' scoring came off a pair of second-half kick returns by Brandon Smith along with a late TD run by Duke DeLancellotti. Smith, who had returned just two kickoffs on the season, broke a tackle deep in his own territory and maintained his balance on a 92-yard return in the third quarter before answering Brauchle's 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter with a 100-yard return.
Louisiana finished with 212 yards on the ground against a Bobcat defense that had allowed 250 yards on the ground in its first four games. The Ragin' Cajuns finished 21-for-26 for 360 yards in the air while holding on to the football for nearly 34 minutes, including 22 in the second half. Justin Anderson led Louisiana with nine tackles and a forced fumble while Chris Hill collected eight stops.
Jones, a freshman who made his first career start for the Bobcats in a 44-21 victory last week over Wyoming, finished 10-for-15 through the air for 66 yards while gaining a team-high 58 yards on the ground. David Mayo led Texas State on defense with 13 tackles with Damion McMiller adding eight stops.
Louisiana will resume Sun Belt Conference play on Tuesday, Oct. 15 when it visits WKU in a 7 p.m. contest that will be televised on ESPN2.
Junior Quarterback Terrance Broadway
• Hit Darryl Surgent on a 44-yard touchdown pass for his 25th career TD pass and taking sole possession of fifth on the all-time list.
• Was 16-for-18 with 288 yards and three TD passes at half time.
• Passed for 335 yards, before being relieved by Brooks Haack with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.
• Went over 300-yards passing for the sixth time in his career, setting the all-time Ragin' Cajuns record, held by Jake Delhomme (1993-96) and Blaine Gautier (2009-12).
Junior Running Back Alonzo Harris
• Four-yard rushing TD run with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter was the 21st of his career, which ties Jerome Coleman at fourth all-time.
Senior Wide Receiver Darryl Surgent
• Caught a 44-yard touchdown pass with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter. It was his 14th career touchdown and 11th career receiving touchdown.
Junior Wide Receiver Jamal Robinson
• Caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Broadway in the second quarter. He now has a touchdown catch in the last four games.
• With 114 yards and two TD in the first half, Robinson has gone over the century mark in his career. He now has 959 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches.
• Fourth game in his career, third this season and second consecutive game with multiple touchdowns.
• The Ragin' Cajuns are now 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in Sun Belt play. They now have an all-time record of 502-523-34.
• Head coach Mark Hudspeth is now 21-10 at Louisiana, and 87-31 all-time.
• The 53-yard pass from Broadway to Robinson in the first quarter was the longest passing play of the season.
• Coming into the game the Cajuns were 13th in the nation with a +1.3 turnover margin and Texas State was 3rd with a +2.0 margin...the Cajuns were +1.0 in the game today.
• Louisiana had two scoring drives of over 90 yards, a 94 yard drive capped off by the Darryl Surgent TD, and a 99-yard drive capped off by Elijah McGuire's 4-yard run.
• The Cajuns started three drives inside Texas State's 20-yard line, scoring a touchdown and kicking two field goals.
• The Cajuns are now 1/7 on 4th down conversions.
• The Cajuns made the first offensive play in both quarters. They received the opening kickoff, and then forced a fumble on the second half kickoff, recovered by Al Riles.
• The captains for Louisiana were Andre Huval (71), Terrance Broadway (8), Justin Anderson (34) and Sean Thomas (24).
Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth Opening Remarks...
"When you practice well, you typically play well and we had a great week of practice. The off-week was beneficial and when we came back for game week it was very sharp. I think a couple days away refreshed their bodies and they were anxious to get back to practice. It showed tonight, we got off to a great start against a team that I was really concerned about because they had a lot of confidence after beating a Wyoming team that got off to a good start."
"We were very pleased with the start we got off to offensively and defensively. We won the turnover battle, we were able to run the ball and we got some big plays tonight. Terrance was on fire. I thought he played very sharp, he threw the ball very well and managed the game well. I thought defensively we tackled very physical and that we did some of the best tackling of the entire year."
On making a statement opening conference play...
"I'm hoping it makes the statement that we have a good football team. Until you get into conference play it is hard to measure people because you don't have many common opponents, until you have a lot of common opponents it's hard to gauge where people are. Now after a couple of weeks most teams in the Sun Belt will have common opponents. It is important to get off to a good start. This was a home game which is most important to us, we protected the house, it was a conference game and our kids really came ready to play."
On playing a good rush defense...
"The other teams that they had played had not used one tight end on the field. Obviously we play one-or-two tight ends and that caused some problems. We were able to run effective enough to open up some play action and make some big plays. They brought a lot of pressure so I have to give our offensive line a lot of credit. The deciphered the plays well and gave us time to get the ball to our big play makers."
On the 99-yard drive...
"I challenged our guys before they took the field. I said 'Guys, we aren't facing 99 yards we are facing 99 and a half,' they don't officially score that as 99-and-a-half, but it was. I challenged our guys because we did it once last year and that was a huge statement to take the ball and drive it that long. I think another big statement was the two-minute drill when we took the ball and drove it to a T at the end of the half to get it to 28 and go into halftime with momentum."
On any surprises...
"The only thing I go by is how we practice. There are times where I really feel good and times when we don't have a great week of practice and we are really concerned. I felt good going into this game and I felt like we played well. We didn't know how well they would play because they have done a lot of good things. I thought that our guys really got after them up front and our guys showed that they were in really good shape. We battled, played hard and I thought that our coaching staff did a good job but more importantly I'm really proud of our players."