Now-No. 21 Ragin' Cajuns' 70-20 win over ULM was all about 'domination'
MONROE – The nationally-ranked Ragin' Cajuns were out to make a point Saturday.
With previously No. 19 Auburn, previously No. 21 Texas and previously No. 23 North Carolina all dropping out of the Top 25 following losses to Alabama, Iowa State and Notre Dame, respectively, the Cajuns moved from No. 24 to No. 21.
They also jumped from No. 23 to No. 20 in the AP Top 25.
The bumps came after a blowout victory delivered with a statement
“You’ve got to let them know that the West runs through Lafayette,” Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis said.
“I just think the goal was just to dominate – domination, and finish the West the right way,” safety Bralen Trahan added after Sun Belt Conference West Division-champion Cajuns (8-1, 5-1) won their fifth straight. “I just feel like we just wanted to dominate the game, and just play good as a team and have momentum going into next week.”
The Cajuns face 2018 and ’19 East Division-champion Appalachian State, a team they’ve never defeated, and the same one that’s beaten them in the last two Sun Belt championship games, to close the regular season Friday night in Boone, North Carolina.
Then it’s on to 2020 East winner Coastal Carolina for the 2020 SBC title game on Dec. 19 in Conway, South Carolina.
But Saturday was all about taking care of business in Louisiana and beating an in-state rival they’ve had close calls with the past two years.
In 2018 UL won and became bowl-eligible only after Craig Ford’s failed field goal as time expired missed the mark. Last season, Stevie Artigue hit a late field goal to put the Cajuns ahead 31-30 and ULM’s Jared Porter missed with two seconds to go.
This year, there was no close call.
Instead, the Cajuns' subs played late in the first half and for much of the second.
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“It was good to get a lot of the young guys in and get them some playing time this year – just see what they can do, develop them at a young age – instead of having it go to the wire and (ULM) miss another kick again,” UL offensive lineman Ken Marks said.
The zinger was one of many stingers the Cajuns put on the Warhawks.
UL rolled up 511 yards of total offense to ULM’s 247. The Cajuns had more yards on the ground, 344, than the Warhawks did all day.
Trahan had a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown, cornerback Trey Amos had a late-game interception and linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill came up with a key interception.
And Lewis had a hand in five of UL’s 10 touchdowns, three of them throwing – one each to Neal Johnson Jr., Johnny Lumpkin and Kyren Lacy – and two running.
Lacy, a true freshman from Thibodaux High, finished with a team-high five catches for 48 yards.
UL running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell did most of the rest, with Ragas rushing for 95 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries while Mitchell had 93 yards and a TD on eight attempts.
The two had holes to run through, as did Michael Orphey Jr. with his late 48-yard TD run and Jordan Griffin with his seven carries for 30 yards.
For Marks, both scheme and physicality were critical to winning battles up front.
“The coaches put us in a game plan where if you executed right, then you’re gonna dominate the game,” he said. “And we just had it in our mind to be physical. We want to play physical every play. Big people beat up on little people.”
On the other side, it was largely about prep as well.
“We kind of knew what there gonna do,” Trahan said, “and they came out there and did it.”
For Lewis, the show of force – from especially from his offensive linemen – was reassuring.
“I didn’t get no sacks today, no pressure,” he said.
“When the O-line has a good day at the office, it’s always a good feeling. It gives you kind of a sense of calmness. When you come to the sideline, ‘phewww,’ you can can take a deep breath when those guys are having a good game.”