NORFOLK, Va. – Louisiana football battled in its Sun Belt Conference opener Saturday but fell at Old Dominion, 38-31, at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

The Ragin’ Cajuns came out firing on the opening drive of the game. Ben Wooldridge converted a 3rd-and-2 from midfield for an 18-yard gain to Robert Williams, setting the Cajuns up in Monarch territory. Four plays later, Wooldridge found Harvey Broussard in the corner of the end zone on a three-yard touchdown pass for the early 7-0 lead.

ODU responded with a quick score to tie the game 33 seconds later. On the ensuing Cajun possession, Wooldridge threw for 30 yards and picked up another 12 with his feet to set up a 28-yard field goal by Kenneth Almendares to give Louisiana a 10-7 lead.

The Monarchs scored 10 straight points in the second quarter and led 17-10 with 4:08 left in the half. Jacob Kibodi got the Cajun offense going again with three carries to open the drive to total 18 yards. Wooldridge then found Charles Robertson over the top to move the ball to the 1-yard-line. On the very next play, Wooldridge kept it himself for the 1-yard scamper to tie things at 17 heading into the locker room.

A pair of ODU touchdowns put them ahead 31-17 heading into the final frame. The offense found themselves again late in the quarter thanks to the running game. Terrence Williams gained 20 yards on three carries to jump-start the drive, before capping it off with a 1-yard touchdown run to pull the Cajuns to within a score.

The ODU offense responded with another quick touchdown to retake a 14-point advantage but the Cajuns continued to put the pressure on the home defense. Facing a 3rd-and-4 from their own 16, Wooldridge dropped a perfect strike to Jacob Bernard for 43 yards to keep the drive alive. Moments later, facing a 4th-and-6, Wooldridge connected on a short pass left to Kibodi who took it the rest of the way for the 37-yard touchdown, making it a 38-31 ball game.

Jasper Williams made the defensive play the Cajuns needed with a sack that forced the Monarchs to give the ball back to the Cajuns with plenty of time on the clock. Using a balanced attack the Cajuns moved the ball from their own 3-yard-line deep into Monarch territory, aided by a pass interference. Facing 4th down from the 7-yard-line, Wooldridge’s pass attempt to Terrance Carter in the flat fell just short on the team’s final possession.

Wooldridge threw for 285 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also running for 49 yards and a score. Williams ended the night with a team-high six catches for 52 yards. Bernard was the team’s leading receiver with 70 yards through the air on three receptions. Kibodi had 10 carries for 54 yards along with his 37-yard touchdown reception.

The Cajuns are back in action on Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama against UAB at Protective Stadium.

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