Louisiana-Lafayette falls to Arizona 45-37
Louisiana-Lafayette already has its first bowl invitation in 41
years. The Ragin’ Cajuns came close to knocking off a Pac-12 team,
The visitors from the Sun Belt Conference rolled up 409 yards
but couldn’t stop the passing game of Nick Foles in a 45-37 loss to
Arizona on Saturday.
Foles, whose status for the game had been uncertain because of
bruised ribs, threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, two of them
late in the first half to put Arizona up 21-13 after the Cajuns had
taken leads of 7-0 and 13-7.
”They were very deflating,” Louisiana quarterback Blaine
Gautier said. ”I feel we have a great team, we could have done
some things better that first half that definitely wouldn’t have
put us in that hole.”
Foles tied the school career and single-season records for
touchdown passes in the game. He already held virtually all other
passing records at the school. Foles also topped 4,000 yards
passing for the season and 10,000 for his career.
”The quarterback, he reads good,” Cajuns cornerback Jemarious
Moten said. ”He slowed the game down, he speeded it up when they
got the momentum; the quarterback is pretty good.”
Moten got the best of Foles once, picking off a pass and
returning it 41 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
It was the seventh ”pick six” of the season for
Louisiana-Lafayette, tying an NCAA record set by Tennessee in
Foles was injured late in last week’s 31-27 victory at Arizona
State and his status for Saturday’s finale was uncertain all week,
to everyone except him.
”I knew this was going to be my last one,” he said, ”so no
matter what it was, I was going to gut it out and get the `W.’ It’s
pretty sore, I’m not going to lie, but it was worth all the
Juron Criner caught nine passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns
for the Wildcats (4-8), breaking the school career record for TD
receptions at 32, a mark that had stood for 36 years.
Gautier threw for 315 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score
for the Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4), who cut the Arizona lead to eight
points three times in the fourth quarter.
”We still continued to fight, as we always do,” Gautier said.
”We’re a four-quarter team. We continue to battle. It’s very
unfortunate to come out of here with the loss.”
Gautier tied Jake Delhomme’s school record of touchdown passes
in a season at 20. Lavon Lawson caught five passes for 137 yards
for the Cajuns.
The Cajuns of the Sun Belt Conference accepted a bid to the New
Orleans Bowl on Monday, their first postseason appearance in 41
years. A first victory over a Pac-12 team would have been a nice
addition to that accomplishment.
”Just too many mistakes,” Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth said.
”Penalties absolutely killed us, 10 to their three. I’m totally
shocked they only had three and totally shocked we had 10.”
Arizona (4-8) finished 3-3 under Kish after Mike Stoops was
fired halfway through the season.
”Seven weeks ago, we were a hundred individuals that were
confused, distraught, unsure, and it was not a football team at
that point,” Kish said. ”To battle through that situation where
we were at that particular time, at the end of the day, at the end
of the season, those 100 individuals became a team.”
New coach Rich Rodriguez visited with tailgaters before the game
and was introduced to the crowd at halftime.
Louisiana-Lafayette, 0-4 against Pac-12 teams, pulled within one
possession for the final time when Gauthier scored on a 10-yard
quarterback draw with 5:05 to play. But the Cajuns never got the
ball again as Arizona moved downfield and ran out the clock.
Moten’s TD return, on his second interception of the day, cut
Arizona’s lead to 31-23, but the Wildcats’ Daniel Jenkins returned
the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the Louisiana 2. Two plays later,
Keola Antolin scored on a 5-yard run to make it 38-23 with 13:28
Again the Ragin’ Cajuns came back, going 71 yards in 10 plays,
with Alonzo Harris scoring on a 5-yard run to cut it to 38-30 with
10:26 still to go.
Foles’ 35-yard pass to Criner at the 6:08 mark boosted the lead
The Cajuns used a fake punt and an onside kick in the first
half, both of them successful, to take leads of 7-0 and 13-7.
Gautier’s 40-yard pass to Lawson set up Harry Peoples’ 11-yard
TD run to make it 7-0. Foles came on for Arizona’s second series
and directed a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive, with fullback Taimi
Tutogi bulling in from the 1 on fourth down to tie it at 7-7.
After the kickoff, Louisiana-Lafayette faked a punt on
fourth-and-11 from its 40, with punter Brett Baer throwing 13 yards
to the Arizona 47. Ladarius Green’s 20-yard run on a reverse set up
Gautier’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Harris. Baer’s conversion
try bounced off the right upright and was no good, so the Ragin’
Cajuns led 13-7 with 9:14 left in the half.
Foles threw two touchdown passes in a span of two minutes, 39
seconds late in the half to put Arizona up 21-13 at the break.