Sep 12, 2020; Ames, Iowa, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Trey Ragas (9) is tackled by Iowa State Cyclones defensive end Zach Petersen (55) at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

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Big plays lift Louisiana-Lafayette to upset of No. 23 Iowa St.

Unranked Louisiana-Lafayette cashed in on three huge plays — two of them in the return game — to post a 31-14 victory over No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday afternoon in Ames, Iowa.

Chris Smith scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and Eric Garror returned a punt 83 yards for a score for the Ragin Cajuns in the season opener for both teams. In between, Levi Lewis tossed a 78-yard touchdown pass to receiver Peter LeBlanc for the game’s only third-quarter score to give Louisiana-Lafayette the lead for good.

After Garror’s return 62 seconds into the fourth made it 24-14, Trey Ragas capped the scoring on a 2-yard run with just 10 seconds remaining as the Ragin’ Cajuns secured just their second victory ever — and first on the road — over a ranked opponent.

The Cajuns’ defense was steady all afternoon, holding Brock Purdy to just 145 yards on 16-of-35 passing and the Cyclones, who were without all-America tight end candidate Charlie Kolar, to just 303 yards in total offense.

Breece Hall rushed for 103 yards and a score for Iowa State.

The Cajuns managed only 272 yards in total offense with just 118 rushing, far under their season average of 254 a game last year.

Levi Lewis was 13-of-21 passing for 154 yards and the one touchdown for Louisiana-Lafayette, whose only other win over a ranked opponent came at home in 1996 against Texas A7M.

What had been expected to be an offensive show was a defensive duel for nearly the first 26 minutes as both teams struggled with issues like dropped passes on offense.

The Cyclones finally put together a 49-yard drive for the game’s first score late in the second quarter. Hall’s 10-yard run to inside the 1-yard line set up Kene Nwangwu’s plunge for a touchdown with 4:28 remaining.

That Cyclones’ lead stood for only 14 seconds, however, when Smith ran the kickoff back 95 yards.

The Cyclones then answered with a 69-yard scoring drive capped by Hall’s 11-yard sprint around right end with 1:17 left in the half. The Cajuns closed out the half on Nate Snyder’s 30-yard field goal as time ran out to close to 14-10 at the break.

The Cyclones finished the half with 204 yards in total offense while the Cajuns managed only 130 with a scant 61 on the ground.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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