Dallas, TX—The Ragin Cajuns had somebody special looking down on them granting them favor.
Coach Looney their offensive line assistant coach, died of a heart attack during an August team workout shortly before the start of pre-season camp. So they had a added motivation coming into the Servpro First Responder Bowl.
16th-ranked Louisiana beat UTSA 31-24 held on Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas to bring its 2020 season to a close on what would have been Looney’s 32nd birthday.
“We’ve been through so much, man, with Coach Looney, from COVID, with just everything going on,” Cajun running back Elijah Mitchell said, “and we just put it in our minds that we just wanted this year to be great, no matter what the circumstances were.”
Louisiana (10-1) did it behind the arm of Levi Lewis throwing TD’s passes to Jalen Williams and Kyren Lacy, 127 yards and one touchdown on 19 rushes by bowl MVP Mitchell, and 12 carries for 98 yards and a tie-breaking touchdown by senior running back Trey Ragas halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Ragin Cajuns was making its third-consecutive bowl appearance, as well as its 8th in the last ten years.
Louisiana got on the board first on its initial possession of the game, when quarterback Levi Lewis hit Jalen Williams on a 15-yard touchdown pass, finishing off an 8-play, 68-yard drive, which gave them an early 7-0 lead.
UTSA scored at the 4:33 mark of the second quarter when Frank Harris capped a 9-play drive of 75-yards drive ending it with an 11-yard touchdown sprint, to trim the deficit to 10-7.
Louisiana scored a touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the first half when Lewis threw a touchdown dart to Kyren Lacy on a 10-yard scoring strike, for an 8-play, 74-yard drive to extend their lead to 17-7 heading to the break.
Levi Lewis led the way for the Cajuns in the first half, completing 7-of-13 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, while Elijah Mitchell rushed for 66 yards on eight carries.
For the Roadrunners over the first 30 minutes of the contest, Frank Harris completed 5-of-8 passes for 47 yards and one pick, while Sincere McCormick rushed 13 times for 70 yards.
Louisiana outgained UTSA, in total yards in the first half, 235-179, including a 93-47 advantage in passing yards, as well as a 143-132 edge in rushing yards.
UTSA closed the gap at the10:14 mark of the third when Harris connected with Zakhari Franklin for a 29-yard touchdown pass, ending a 4-play, 62-yard drive, to make it 24-14.
UTSA knotted the game with 13:32 on the clock in the fourth quarter, their offense scoring points in bunches, Hunter Duplessis booted a 20-yard field goal, completing a 9-play, 82-yard drive, which tied the game at 24.
Running back Trey Ragas plunged in from the 1-yard for a score with 7:16 remaining on the clock to put the icing on the cake and to thwart a UTSA comeback at SMU’s Gerald R. Ford Stadium.
Louisiana brought the kitchen sink with pressure to force the Roadrunners to turn the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-7 with 4:37 ticks, then ran out the clock.
“It was very important to end the season with a win, man,” Mitchell said after the Cajuns closed with a seventh straight victory.
The win extended UL’s season-ending win streak to seven games, to go along with ten wins on the season, marking the second-consecutive season that they have compiled double-digit wins in a single season, after securing a school-record 11 wins a season ago.
“Man, what an unbelievable friend,” Cajuns coach Billy Napier said of Looney, also an ex-Mississippi State and Central Arkansas assistant coach.