SHREVEPORT — The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns were shut out in the second half in a 23-16 loss to the Houston Cougars in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium on Saturday.
With the loss, Louisiana ends the 2022 season 6-7 overall.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Ragin’ Cajuns took the opening drive and went 75 yards on 15 plays, as quarterback Chandler Fields completed his first six passes for 49 yards. The drive was capped with a four-yard pass from a scrambling Fields to tight end Johnny Lumpkin in the corner of the end zone.
The Cougars moved the ball past midfield on their opening possession but was forced to punt Kendre’ Gant sacked Clayton Tune on third down.
After Louisiana’s defense got a fourth-down stop, the Ragin’ Cajuns offense capitilized with a seven-play, 39-yard that ended with a 42-yard field goal by Kenneth Almendares.
Louisiana’s defense forced a punt, and after a 33-yard return by Eric Garror, the Ragin’ Cajuns had excellent field position. Louisiana was unable to pick up the first down but did manage to add another 42-yard field goal by Almendares.
With 7:05 left in second quarter, the Ragin’ Cajuns held a 13-0 lead over the Cougars.
Houston’s offense finally got going on the next possession as the Cougars went 80 yards on nine plays, as Tune hit KeSean Carter for a 30-yard pass down the left sideline and then a 33-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good.
Louisiana then added to its lead with a 13-play, 83-yard drive that resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Allemendares.
At the break, the Ragin’ Cajuns held a 16-6 lead over the Cougars.
Houston opened up the second half with a 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive that chewed up 5:33 seconds off the clock. The Cougars capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown strike from Tune to Nathaniel Dell.
Houston’s defense then stepped up as Sedrick Williams forced and then recovered a fumble by Chris Smith. Louisiana’s defense would answer the bell themselves as Sonny Hazard and AJ Riley stuffed Brandon Campbell on fourth down at the five-yard line.
Houston tied the game early in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard field goal by Kyle Ramsey.
Louisiana brought in Zeon Chriss and the freshman guided the Ragin’ Cajuns all the way down to inside the red zone but the drive ended in disappointment. Chriss handed the ball off to Smith who fumbled the ball and Houston’s Donavan Mutin recovered.
Louisiana’s defense forced a Houston punt.
After a Ragin’ Cajuns punt, the Cougars began the drive from their own eight-yard line. Tune took a designed run for 33 yards to give the Cougars some breathing room.
After a few penalties appeared to stall the drive, Tune found Carter wide open down the field for a 41-yard completion. A few moments later, Tune found Dell for a 12-yard touchdown.
Louisiana’s one last chance of tying the game ended moments later when Chriss’ pass was intercepted.
BIG NUMBER: 363
Louisiana’s defense held Houston’s high-powered offense to 363 yards in Saturday’s game. The Cougars entered the game having averaged 463.8 yards per contest.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: KENNETH ALMENDARES & KESEAN CARTER
The Louisiana kicker led the team in scoring as he made three field goals from 42, 42 and 32 yards and one extra point attempt. The Houston wide receiver Carter pulled in four receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown in the come-from-behind victory.
UP NEXT: Louisiana (6-7) will now prepare for spring football practice.