UL stonewalled again, falls to Appalachian State, 17-7, in Sun Belt championship rematch

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

It was the unlikeliest of scenarios: Two teams, each one averaging more than 44 points per game, in a tight defensive battle.

But that's precisely what happened Wednesday night at Cajun Field, and behind two touchdown runs by quarterback Zac Thomas, Appalachian State left with a 17-7 ESPN2-televised win over UL in a rematch of last season's Sun Belt Conference championship game.

UL's bid to break a 7-7 halftime tie early in the second half was stymied when Kenneth Almendares had his 42-yard field goal try blocked by George Blackstock. About five minutes later, Chandler Staton hit a 40-yard attempt for Appalachian State and the Mountaineers led 10-7.

Watch:Appalachian State vs. Louisiana football video highlights

UL running back Elijah Mitchell is brought down in Appalachian State's 17-7 win over the Ragin' Cajuns on Wednesday night at Cajun Field.

With just under three minutes to go, App State, protecting its three-point lead, went for it on fourth-and-5 from the UL 25. Thomas' throw to Corey Sutton in the end zone was incomplete, but Cajuns cornerback Eric Garror was called for interference.

Two plays later, with one minute and 55 seconds remaining, Thomas ran in from 7 yards out.

More:Ryan Leaf broadcasting UL, Appalachian State football leaves fans feeling mix of pity, joy

Thomas finished 11-of-17 for 147 yards and ran 15 times for 63 yards and the two TDs. Darrynton Evans led App State with 69 rushing yards on 22 carries.

The Mountaineers are now 7-0 all-time vs. the Cajuns.

App State finished with 343 yards of total offense and UL just 254, well below its league-high average of 540.0 going into the game. 

More:It's not just 'another game' for Cajuns


Thomas got App State going with a 7-yard TD run that finished a seven-play, 95-yard drive with just more than five minutes left in the opening quarter.

UL threatened with just more than nine minutes remaining before halftime, but after an incomplete pass squeezed two Trey Ragas runs, Elijah Mitchell was stopped short on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

The Cajuns finally broke through with eight seconds left in the half, when Levi Lewis found tight end Nick Ralston over the middle for a 14-yard TD.

More:App State Miracle on the Mountain was Napier nightmare


Thomas' seal-it TD, a roll to the left, capped a decisive 19-point, 97-yard drive that consumed 10:11 for the Mountaineers.

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Announced attendance: 21,012. ... Lewis finished 13-of-24 for 131 yards. ... Mitchell ran 13 times for 68 yards, Raymond Calais nine for 47 and Ragas seven for 24. ... UL guard Kevin Dotson started his 44th straight game, a streak that is the longest active one in the country by an offensive lineman. ... Ja'Marcus Bradley extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 33. It was his only reception of the night. ... Ralston's catch late in the opening half marked the Arizona State graduate transfer's third TD grab of the season. ... When Stevie Artigue hit the PAT that followed after Ralston's touchdown, it was the 29th straight made extra point of the year for the fifth-year senior from Lafayette High. ... Thomas has 115 passing yards and Lewis 77 at the half. ... At halftime, UL's Rhys Byrns had three punts for an average of 57.0 yards with a long of 61. He finished with six and an average of 49.3.

More:Cajuns' Ralston steps up to lead tight ends


Freshman Peter LeBlanc got a start at receiver for UL, his first as a Cajun. ...  Defensive end Chauncey Manac (back) returned for the Cajuns after missing one game. ... Cajun captains were Bradley, Ashton Johnston, Robert Hunt and Jacques Boudreaux. ... Former UL co-defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison was at Cajun Field on Wednesday night working as Appalachian State's cornerbacks coach and associate head coach.

More:UL's Chauncey Manac 'impacts every game he plays in'


UL: 4-2, 1-1 in the Sun Belt. Appalachian State: 5-0, 2-0.


UL is at Arkansas State on Oct. 17 (ESPNU). Appalachian State faces UL Monroe next.

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