TROY, Al. – Capitalizing on three forced turnovers in the second half, Louisiana Football defeated Troy, 35-21 and secured a program-record ninth-straight victory Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, Louisiana will host the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m.
Levi Lewis led the offense on the night with four touchdowns, including one rushing score. It is the third time in his career that the Baton Rouge native has thrown for two scores and rushed for one.
The one-two punch of Chris Smith and Montrell Johnson provided the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense with a balanced attack that kept the Trojan’s defense on their heels throughout.
Smith crossed the 100-yard mark for the second time in his career with 102 yards on 15 attempts as Johnson provided 67 complimentary yards on 16 carries.
With two long connections, Michael Jefferson and tight end Neal Johnson led the receiving corps.
Jefferson tallied 71 yards on two catches and added a score while Johnson recorded 47 yards on a pair of grabs and also found the end zone on the night.
Ferrod Gardner headlined Louisiana’s defensive unit with a team-high 11 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up.
Linebacker Kris Moncrief and safety Cameron Solomon each earned the Ragin’ Cajuns remaining two takeaways with a pair of forced fumbles late in the fourth quarter.
Troy got things going on the first possession of the game, taking advantage of a key fourth-down conversion to set up a 10-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Gunnar Watson.
Louisiana answered on the next drive, taking the ball 79 yards on nine plays to set up a 15-yard pass from Lewis to Dontae Fleming, his first of the season, to tie the game up at seven points apiece.
After holding the home team to a field goal, the Ragin’ Cajuns took their first lead of the day when Lewis avoided incoming pressure and launched a dime to Jefferson for a 52-yard touchdown and put the visitors ahead, 14-10.
The Trojans tacked on a field goal late in the first half to pull within a point, but the lead was quickly extended following the first drive of the third period when Lewis threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this one a 13-yard strike to Kyren Lacy, to push the lead out 21-13.
Lewis then flashed his wheels following a defensive stop, taking the snap on 4th and 9 and dodging multiple defenders before hitting the sideline and scoring from 27-yards out to put his team ahead 28-13 with 6:03 to go in the third.
Troy pulled within a touchdown 47 seconds into the fourth quarter when Watson hit Tez Johnson from seven yards out and then completed the two-point conversion.
Troy’s defense stopped the Louisiana offense on its next possession and were in position to tie the game. However, Gardner pursued a tipped pass off the hands of Trojan’s wideout Jamontez Woods.
With momentum and the regained possession, Louisiana’s backfield led the offense down the field with seven rushes on eight plays. The critical drive was punctuated with a six-yard score from Johnson out of a wildcat formation.
Troy fumbled on their final two possessions to close out the contest.
Louisiana will play its final non-conference contest of the season on Saturday, Nov. 20, when it travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Liberty. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CST.