The Louisiana Ragin Cajuns returned to Cajun Field after being on the road the last two weeks to welcome in Buffalo from the Mid-Atlantic Conference. Buffalo made things very interesting down the stretch with 14 unanswered points, but the Louisiana defense came away with a pick in the final drive to seal a 45-38 victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The game started with both teams punting on their first possessions before turning it over on downs on their second possessions. Then Louisiana got on the board with a seven-play, 49-yard drive that took 2:56 off the clock, resulting in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Zeon Chriss to Neal Johnson Jr. for the 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Cajuns were moving down the field once again later in the quarter, but Buffalo’s defense was able to stand up and force a 22-yard field goal from Kenneth Almendares to put Louisiana up 10-0 with four minutes remaining in the half. For Almendares, this is his 17th consecutive field goal made, which puts him just one away from tying the program record set by Brett Baer.
After a quick defensive stop, Louisiana’s offense moved again down the field as they settled in at the 14-yard line. Zeon Chriss launched a pass to the end zone that was intended for Harvey Broussard but was intercepted in the back corner by Charles McCartherens to end the first half with the Cajuns leading by 10.
Louisiana opened the second half with a quick defensive stand to get the ball back in the hands of their offense. Then on the fourth play of the drive, Zeon Chriss took off up the middle for a 54-yard touchdown scamper that put Louisiana ahead 17-0 early in the second half.
Buffalo would answer with a big drive, including a 48-yard run by Mike Washington Jr to put the Bulls in the Louisiana red zone for the first time on the night. A 10-yard keeper by backup quarterback CJ Ogbonna put Buffalo on the board for the first time, trailing the Cajuns 17-7 with 9:25 remaining.
Later in the quarter, Jacob Kibodi showed his speed with a 69-yard touchdown run that extended the lead to 24-7 for Louisiana. Three plays later, a screen pass by Buffalo was picked off by Patrick Mensah and returned for a touchdown to once again push away from Buffalo at 31-7 halfway through the third quarter.
Buffalo came back into the game fairly quickly though, as Ron Cook Jr scored from four yards out to make it 31-13, but a missed two-point try kept it at 18 points. After a quick stop, the Bulls got the ball back and Cook scored again plus a successful two-point play that made it 31-21 at the end of the third quarter.
Two big runs by Dre’Lyn Washington put the Cajuns in the red zone and Chriss scored from one yard out to make it 38-21 with 13:46 remaining in the contest.
Buffalo added a 47-yard field goal with 10:42 remaining to make it a 14-point game. But the Cajuns separated again at the 7:40 mark with a 20-yard touchdown from Jacob Kibodi, his second touchdown of the night, to make it 45-24.
However, three minutes later, Buffalo punched it from 12 yards out on a pass from Cole Snyder to Marlyn Johnson to make it 45-31. Then, the kickoff was touched by a Louisiana player and recovered by the Buffalo kicking team.
Buffalo capitalized on the opportunity with a Jacqez Barksdale one-yard touchdown to cut it to a 45-38 game with two minutes remaining.
Buffalo was able to make another critical stop and get the football back with 1:24 remaining, but a critical interception by Tyree Skipper sealed the deal with 17 seconds to go to survive the late Buffalo push with a final score of 45-38.
BIG NUMBER: 893
Both offenses combined for 893 yards of total offense as well as 83 total points. Louisiana had 520 yards alone with 269 of it on the ground.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Zeon Chriss
Chriss was efficient with his passing and put on another show with his running ability as the freshman completed 75% of his passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. He added 70 yards rushing with two touchdowns. His big blemish was two interceptions on the night.
UP NEXT: Louisiana (3-1) will be on the road to take on Minnesota next week in Minneapolis. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CT