HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – They say lightning doesn’t strike on the same football team twice. Nobody told the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in its nationally-televised game against Marshall.
Ben Wooldridge, in his first career start, tossed for a career-high 230 yards and two touchdowns and Louisiana erupted for 20 points after a 37-minute delay due to lightning just before the start of the second half to claim a 23-13 Sun Belt Conference victory over Marshall on Wednesday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Louisiana (3-3, 1-2 SBC) snapped a three-game losing streak – equaling its longest since dropping three straight in Billy Napier’s first season in 2018 – and earned its second win over Marshall (3-3, 0-2 SBC) in a span of 10 months.
And for the second time in the 2022 season, it did it after a lightning delay midway through the game.
Bralen Trahan posted a career-best 12 tackles to lead a Louisiana defense, which held Marshall to 123 yards in the second half, and set up a third-quarter touchdown with a momentum-shifting interception after the Thundering Herd was looking to increase on its 7-3 lead.
After Trahan’s interception and 25-yard return to its own 40, Louisiana would take advantage of a Marshall penalty on a fourth-and-6 as Terrence Williams kept the drive alive before Wooldridge connected with John Stephens, Jr., on a 34-yard gain to the Marshall 11.
Wooldridge would connect with Dontae Fleming on a 6-yard scoring pass in the left corner of the end zone to the 7-play, 60-yard drive and give Louisiana the lead for good.
The Ragin’ Cajuns added a 33-yard field goal by Kenneth Almendares to take a 13-7 lead after Marshall was forced to punt when Zi’Yon Hill-Green dropped Ethan Payne for a 3-yard loss before Kris Moncrief sacked Henry Colombi for a 7-yard loss on third-and-13.
Almendares came back on Louisiana’s next possession with a career-best 52-yard field goal to cap a 6-play drive which began after a 31-yard punt by Rece Verhoff to the Marshall 49.
The Ragin’ Cajuns put the game away in the fourth quarter Michael Jefferson caught a short pass from Wooldridge, broke a tackle and scored on a 32-yard scamper with 9:59 remaining.
Louisiana drove 55 yards in eight plays to take a 3-0 lead on Almendares’ 42-yard field goal with 7:03 remaining in the first quarter. Wooldridge completed passes of 19 and 20 yards to Michael Jefferson on the drive and tossed an 18-yard strike to Peter LeBlanc before the Marshall defense held.
The Thundering Herd took a 7-3 lead with 4:09 remaining in the first half after driving 87 yards in 10 plays. Colombi connected with Corey Gammage for a 42-yard crossing pass to the UL 26 before Khalan Laborn scored seven plays later from 1-yard out.
Backup quarterback Cam Fancher guided the Thundering Herd on a 9-play, 75-yard drive with Laborn scoring on a 2-yard rush up the middle with 6:52 left.
Jourdan Quibodeaux tied a career-high with 14 tackles for Louisiana, which recorded five sacks, forced a pair of turnovers while holding the Thundering Herd to 276 yards of total offense. Moncrief added 10 tackles with Courtline Flowers recovering a fumble late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Louisiana returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 22, when it hosts Arkansas State for Louisiana Salutes at Cajun Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.