Louisiana Holds off Nicholls, Wins 2021 Home Opener 27-24
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns held off a late rally by the Nicholls State Colonels to win their 2021 home opener 27-24.
Louisiana's offense started off well with senior quarterback Levi Lewis completing each of his first five passes for 75 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Stephens. The seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive gave the Cajuns an early 7-0 lead.
However, Nicholls answered with an effective drive of their own, going 90 yards in only three plays to tie the game up. Both offenses looked extremely impressive on their opening possessions.
A 54-yard kickoff return by Chris Smith set up a short scoring drive that ended in a 46-yard field goal by Louisiana kicker Kenneth Almendares, and Louisiana took a 10-7 lead.
In the second quarter, a 40-yard punt by Nicholls pinned the Cajuns at their one yard-line, but Lewis and the Louisiana offense only needed four plays to go 99 yards for their second touchdown of the night. A beautiful 46-yard connection between Lewis and wide receiver Michael Jefferson increased the Louisiana lead to 17-7.
Nicholls added a 42-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half to make it 17-10 going into halftime. The Colonels quarterback Lindsey Scott battled with Lewis in the first half. Scott carried the Nicholls offense with 14 completions on 20 passing attempts for 200 yards and a touchdown while Lewis was 11-15 with 182 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
Louisiana had issues establishing their rushing attack in the first half, only running for 49 yards on 19 carries, but the play of Lewis was enough to keep the Cajuns in front at the break.
The two teams exchanged punts to begin the second half, and Nicholls answered with a long, 11-play 85-yard drive that came down to a 4th-and-goal at the Louisiana 1 yard-line. The Colonels went for it, but the Cajuns defense stuffed the rushing attempt at the goal line to maintain the lead.
A failed fourth-down conversion by Louisiana's offense deep in their own territory set the Colonels up in excellent position to once again have a chance to tie the game, but linebacker Kris Moncrief gave the Cajuns defense their first turnover of the 2021 season, an interception returned 67 yards for a touchdown that extended Louisiana's lead to 24-10.
In the fourth quarter, after a Louisiana touchdown was brought back due to a holding penalty, a short field goal by Almendares stretched the Cajuns lead to three possessions.
Scott led the Nicholls offense on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to make it a 10-point game with five minutes left in the game, but Louisiana recovered the Colonels onside kick attempt.
A fumble by Lewis with about two minutes left gave Nicholls their last chance, and Scott took advantage, throwing his third touchdown of the game with 33 seconds left.
Louisiana recovered the onside kick to hold off the Colonels late surge and win 27-24.
Nicholls finished with 511 total yards, while the Cajuns had 417 yards. Lewis threw 304 yards on 19 completions with two touchdowns.
With the win, Louisiana earned their first win of the 2021 season to improve to 1-1 overall. The Cajuns next game is a midweek home matchup against the Ohio Bobcats on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 7:00 p.m.