Cajuns quarterback Chandler Fields 18 throws a pass as Louisiana   s Ragin Cajuns take on the Jaksonville State Gacmecocks in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the Caesars Superdome. New Orleans, La. Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.

Jacksonville St. rallies to tie, defeats Louisiana in OT

Garrison Rippa kicked a 27-yard field goal in overtime as Jacksonville State rallied late to defeat Louisiana 34-31 in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday in the Superdome.

The Gamecocks finished 9-4 after winning their first bowl game in their second season as an FBS program.

Zion Webb threw a tying touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to help JSU overcome three defensive touchdowns by the Ragin’ Cajuns (6-7).

Louisiana’s Kenneth Almendares was wide left on a 43-yard field-goal attempt on the first possession of overtime, setting the stage for the game-winner.

Jalen Clark had fumble and interception returns for first-half touchdowns and Tyree Skipper added a tie-breaking interception return for a touchdown for Louisiana, which got 155 passing yards from Chandler Fields.

Webb passed for 156 yards with two interceptions and Ron Wiggins rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Webb’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Perry Carter on fourth-and-3 tied the score with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Rippa kicked a 22-yard field goal on the Gamecocks’ first possession of the third quarter to give them a 17-14 lead.

The Cajuns answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Fields on the ensuing possession to take a 21-17 lead.

Logan Smothers’ 10-yard touchdown run put JSU back on top, 24-21, at the end of the third quarter.

Almendares kicked a 33-yard field goal on the fourth play of the fourth quarter to tie the score.

Skipper intercepted Smothers and returned it 43 yards for a 31-24 lead with 5:32 remaining.

On the game’s first possession, Clark picked up Carter’s fumble and returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

JSU drove to Cole Fuller’s 1-yard touchdown run that tied the score at the end of the first quarter.

Clark intercepted Webb and returned 16 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cajuns a 14-7 lead.

Wiggins ran 7 yards for a touchdown with 23 seconds left, tying the score at 14 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Bryce Williams (21) is tackled against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns defense during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota’s running game too strong for Louisiana

Athan Kaliakmanis passed for two touchdowns and ran for another score as Minnesota defeated Louisiana 35-24 in a non-conference game Saturday in Minneapolis.

Kaliakmanis completed 12 of 14 for just 146 yards and rushed for just 17 yards, but he threw touchdown passes of 10 and 37 yards to Daniel Jackson, and Zach Evans and Bryce Williams each added a touchdown run for the Golden Gophers (3-2).

Minnesota played without freshman running back Darius Taylor, who averaged 176 rushing yards in the past three games but suffered an undisclosed injury late in a 37-34 overtime loss to Northwestern last week.

Redshirt freshman Zeon Chriss, making his second career start in place of injured Ben Wooldridge, passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the Ragin’ Cajuns (3-2).

Chriss was Louisiana’s leading rusher, finishing with 74 yards on 10 attempts.

Minnesota drove 80 yards on the first possession of the third quarter and Evans, who finished with a game-high 85 rushing yards, completed the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run that gave the Gophers a 21-17 lead.

Tyler Nabin intercepted Chriss at the Louisiana 42 late in the third quarter, and on the third play of the fourth quarter, Williams ran 2 yards for a touchdown and a 28-17 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Jack Henderson intercepted Chriss at the Minnesota 44, and on fourth and 2, Kaliakmanis and Jackson teamed for their 37-yard score.

Jacob Kibodi ran 52 yards for a touchdown to trim the lead to 35-24 with 3:01 remaining.

On the first possession of the game Chriss threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Peter LeBlanc.

Kaliakmanis threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jackson that tied the score at the end of the first quarter.

On the third play of the second quarter, Kenneth Almendares kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the Cajuns a 10-7 lead.

Kaliakmanis answered with a 2-yard touchdown run that gave the Gophers a 14-10 lead midway through the second quarter.

Chriss’ 6-yard touchdown pass to Robert Williams gave Louisiana a 17-14 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Darius Taylor (1) leaps over Northwestern Wildcats linebacker Kenny Soares Jr. (35) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota, Louisiana try to brush off last week’s shaky endings

Louisiana and Minnesota both saw big leads shrink in the fourth quarter last week.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (3-1), who were able to hold on for a victory, and the Golden Gophers (2-2), who fell in overtime, will meet in a nonconference game on Saturday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota had a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter last week at Northwestern yet wound up losing 37-34 in OT.

Golden Gophers coach P.J. Fleck called the finish “a catastrophic 15 minutes.”

“We weren’t able to make enough plays on the offense, defense or special teams, and it cost us,” Fleck said. “It’s 100 percent on my shoulders. I’m the head football coach. Everything runs through me.”

Adding injury to insult was the fact that freshman running back Darius Taylor, who had 198 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern, was lost to an undisclosed injury late in the game. Fleck said he wouldn’t announce the status of Taylor, who has averaged 176.3 rushing yards over the past three games, for Saturday until “two hours before game time.”

Minnesota will try to shake off the effects of last week’s missed opportunity and avoid looking ahead to next week’s home game against No. 2 Michigan as it plays a Louisiana team that led visiting Buffalo 45-24 midway through the fourth quarter last week.

The Cajuns allowed back-to-back touchdowns that trimmed the gap to seven points with two minutes remaining. After a three-and-out by the Louisiana offense, Tyree Skipper made an interception that sealed the victory with 17 seconds left.

Redshirt freshman Zeon Chriss, making his first career start in place of injured Ben Wooldridge, completed 22 of 29 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions.

“I didn’t even want him to throw it that many times, to be honest with you,” Louisiana coach Michael Desormeaux said. “I didn’t want him to have to feel like he’s got to do it all.”

Chriss, who appears to be the starter for the foreseeable future, added 70 yards and two touchdowns on 11 rushes.

–Field Level Media

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana???Lafayette wide receiver Michael Jefferson (WO27) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

WR prospect Michael Jefferson required surgeries after car wreck

Former Louisiana wide receiver and mid-round NFL draft prospect Michael Jefferson was involved in a multi-car wreck that required multiple surgeries, his agent told ESPN on Tuesday.

The accident happened Sunday night in Mobile, Ala., Jefferson’s hometown. No other details were available.

The 6-foot-4 Jefferson led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 51 catches for 810 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. Louisiana went 6-7, earning a bowl berth against Houston in the Independence Bowl.

He caught 69 passes for 1,291 yards and 11 TDs in two seasons at Louisiana.

Jefferson is ranked as the No. 41 wideout in the upcoming draft by ESPN. ranks him as a bottom of roster or practice squad player in the NFL.

Jefferson transferred to Louisiana from Alabama State. He played three seasons (2018-20) with the Hornets, an FCS school.

–Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2022; Shreveport, Louisiana, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns wide receiver Lance Legendre (12) runs after a catch as Houston Cougars linebacker Mannie Nunnery (14) makes the tackle during the first half in the 2022 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Houston beats Louisiana in Independence Bowl on late TD

Clayton Tune completed 19 of 28 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 20 seconds remaining, to lift Houston to a 23-16 comeback win over Louisiana in the Independence Bowl on Friday afternoon in Shreveport, La.

Tune found Nathaniel Dell open for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining to break a 16-16 tie and clinch the win for the Cougars (8-5) in what was their third consecutive bowl appearance.

Louisiana (6-7) lost starting quarterback Chandler Fields in the fourth quarter to an apparent leg injury. Backup Zeon Chriss completed 4 of 6 passes for 25 yards but was intercepted by Jayce Rogers on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ final drive. D’Anthony Jones also had a key sack for the Cougars on that drive.

Fields completed 17 of 25 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown as Louisiana relied mostly on its passing game early on. Houston also flipped its offensive script early, trying to go to the ground more often until Tune found some offensive rhythm late in the first half. Tune, who made his 38th career start for Houston, was one of three Cougars to rack up 45 yards rushing.

The Ragin’ Cajuns set the tone early with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took up nearly half the first quarter and was capped by a 4-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone by Johnny Lumpkin.

Houston trailed 13-0 in the second quarter before Tune found KeSean Carter for a 33-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with three minutes left. Carter led Houston with 104 yards and that touchdown on just four catches.

Kyle Ramsey missed the extra point, however, and Louisiana tacked on its third field goal of the second quarter to take a 16-6 halftime lead.

Tune’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Dell with 9:21 left in the third quarter pulled Houston to within 16-13.

Houston’s defense managed to hold Louisiana’s offense, which ran for 129 yards, in check throughout the second half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana plans for Houston’s passing attack at Independence Bowl

Louisiana and Houston both kept their streaks of bowl appearances alive this season and are bracing for their clash Friday, Dec. 23 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

The Ragin’ Cajuns (6-6) will make their fifth consecutive bowl appearance while the Cougars (7-5) are in a bowl for the third consecutive season.

Like other teams in their respective situations, Houston and Louisiana are already concentrating on recruiting and the transfer portal as each program looks to build for the future.

But Houston coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t discounting what a victory in this game could mean.

“I think for bowl games to survive they’ve got to create some interesting matchups and I think this is an interesting matchup,” Holgorsen said recently. “I know the history of the Independence Bowl. I’ve watched it forever. It’s got a lot of great history and tradition, and I’m excited about digging into that.”

The Cougars lead the all-time series against Louisiana 6-3, but the Ragin’ Cajuns won the most recent matchup 31-28 in Houston in 2006. This will be the first bowl matchup between them.

Houston possesses one of the most potent offenses and passing games in the nation, scoring 37.2 points per game and passing for 321.1 yards per game.

Quarterback Clayton Tune has thrown for 3,845 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He is one of the players the Cougars are trying to replace next season, likely through the portal.

His top target is Nathaniel Dell, who leads the team with 103 catches for 1,354 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Louisiana has already been hit hard by key departures to the NFL draft, losing defensive end Andre Jones, which makes its defensive task even more difficult in this game. The Ragin’ Cajuns will have to rely on their less experienced defenders to try and slow Houston’s aerial assault.

“John (Stephens), Pete (LeBlanc), Errol (Rogers Jr.), Jake Bernard, those guys need to step up a little bit and play their best game,” Louisiana coach Michael Desormeaux told reporters recently. “Then you add (wide receiver) Lance (Legendre), who’s played more and more as the season has gone on, but now it’s his time to go out there and do it.”

Chandler Fields (954 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions) leads Louisiana’s passing game although his top target, Michael Jefferson, has also declared for the draft. Louisiana’s leading rusher Chris Smith (579 yards, three touchdowns) will play.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Lafayette, LA, USA; Louisiana Ragin Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Louisiana brings lethal defense to New Orleans Bowl vs. Marshall

Louisiana and Marshall will get an early start on their Sun Belt Conference rivalry when they meet in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday in the Caesars Superdome.

The No. 23 Ragin’ Cajuns (12-1) secured the host berth in the New Orleans Bowl by defeating Appalachian State 24-16 in the Sun Belt championship game Dec. 4.

The Thundering Herd (7-5), who finished second in the Conference USA East division, will join the Sun Belt no later than July 1, 2023.

Louisiana has won a school-record 12 consecutive games since losing the season opener at Texas.

The Cajuns’ fourth consecutive Sun Belt West division title helped head coach Billy Napier land the head-coaching job at Florida. Napier coached the team in the conference championship game before departing.

Co-offensive coordinator Michael Desormeaux was named as Napier’s successor and will make his head-coaching debut against Marshall. After the bowl game, Desormeaux will have to fill three spots on his staff that were created by Napier hires at Florida.

“I don’t want there to be a whole bunch of distractions among the players any more than what we’ve already had,” Desormeaux said. “These guys for the last two or three weeks, they’ve been through the ringer. The No. 1 priority for myself and my staff is to send this team off the right way in this New Orleans Bowl.

“We started this thing a long time ago — for some of these kids for four years in the making — and we’ve got one more mission this year that we plan on finishing. We have a great team. They deserve to finish this thing the right way.”

Cajuns super senior quarterback Levi Lewis is 34-7 as the Cajuns starter and will be playing his final game.

Louisiana is 11th in the country in scoring defense (18.2) and created 21 turnovers while committing just eight.

Marshall lost two of its last three games, which included a 53-21 thrashing at the hands of Western Kentucky.

“We’ve got a point to prove,” first-team All-CUSA running back Rasheen Ali said. “We all want to finish strong because we didn’t get the outcome we wanted at the end of the season, so we can go down to New Orleans, and come out with a victory.”

Ali, a freshman who averages 103.4 rushing yards per game, is tied for first nationally with 20 rushing touchdowns and is second with 22 total touchdowns and 11.0 points per game.

Marshall is tied for fourth nationally with 35 rushing touchdowns and is 10th in total offense (470.8) and 12th in passing offense (310.9). The defense is led by All-CUSA linebacker Abraham Beauplan (104 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble) and is tied for 13th nationally with 38 sacks.

The game is a Louisiana homecoming for three members of the Thundering Herd. Safety Cory McCoy, voted defensive MVP by his teammates and coaches, is a graduate transfer from McNeese State. His head coach with the Cowboys was Lance Guidry, who is a native of Welsh, La., and the current Marshall defensive coordinator. Tight end Hayden Hagler is from Sulphur, La.

Louisiana went to the New Orleans Bowl each season from 2011-14 and won each game before losing to Southern Miss in the same bowl in 2016.

This will be Marshall’s first appearance in the New Orleans Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Michael Desormeaux, Co-Offensive Coordinator/TE on the sidelines as the Cajuns take on App State in the SBC Championship game at Cajun Field.  Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Michael Desormeaux 0275

Former QB, assistant Michael Desormeaux new head coach at Louisiana

Michael Desormeaux was named head coach at Louisiana, his alma mater, on Sunday.

He replaces Billy Napier, who was hired as the head coach at Florida.

Desormeaux, 36, played quarterback for the Ragin’ Cajuns (2005-08). He spent the past six seasons on Louisiana’s coach staff, most recently as co-offensive coordinator in 2021.

This season, the Ragin’ Cajuns won their first-ever Sun Belt Conference championship. At 12-1, they are ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

“Throughout our search process, we were intentional in identifying someone who could carry on the winning #cULture that we have built at the University of Louisiana,” athletic director Bryan Maggard said in a news release.

“We looked both internally and externally and it became very evident that not only is Mike Desormeaux ready to be a head coach, but he is the right head coach for our program now. Mike has amazing relationships with every member of our nationally ranked team and is highly respected by the high school football coaches in the state of Louisiana. He is a man of unbelievable character and integrity, is highly respected in the college coaching profession, and has a very high football acumen.”

As a player, Desormeaux passed for 3,893 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 2,843 yards and 16 TDs. He was named All-Sun Belt Conference three times and was the Offensive Player of the Year as a senior after throwing for 1,876 yards while rushing for 1,035 yards.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to serve as the next head coach at the University of Louisiana,” Desormeaux said. “I am a Ragin’ Cajun through and through, so to get this unbelievable opportunity is humbling to say the least.”

–Field Level Media