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