LOUISIANA'S RAGIN' CAJUNS RALLY TO WIN 2011 NEW ORLEANS BOWL, 32-30
Gautier named MVP after throwing for Bowl-record 470 yards; Baer kicks 50-yard field goal as time expires
NEW ORLEANS – Ragin‘ Cajuns quarterback Blaine Gautier threw for a record 470 yards and kicker Brett Baer drilled a 50-yard field goal as time expired and the Ragin' Cajuns rallied from behind to defeat San Diego State, 32-30, in the 2011 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday evening in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Gautier was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after completing 24-of-40 passes for three touchdowns and an interception, and his yardage total breaks the former New Orleans Bowl record of 387 by Troy’s Corey Robinson vs Ohio on Dec. 18, 2010. With the win, the Cajuns– which played in its first postseason contest since the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl – earned their first bowl victory as a member of the NCAA-FBS and concludes the 2011 season 9-4. San Diego State, meanwhile, wraps up the year 8-5.
The Cajuns led 29-24 following a 22-yard Baer field goal with 2:09 left to play, but the Aztecs drove 69-yards on 10 plays capped by a 12-yard Colin Lockett-to-Ryan Lindley touchdown strike with 35 seconds remaining to give San Diego State a 30-29 lead. UL, however, was not done as Gautier drove the Cajuns to the Aztec 43. With four seconds remaining, Baer lined up for the potential game winner, and got a five-yard boost when San Diego State was penalized for falsely simulating the snap of the ball.
Baer and the Ragin‘ Cajuns lined up again from the 33 and the ball sailed through the uprights to spark the Cajuns celebration.
Javone Lawson was the top receiver for the Cajuns, catching nine passes for 193 yards and two scores while Ladarius Green hauled in five passes for 121 and a score. Alonzo Harris paced the Cajuns with 62 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Lance Kelley and Jemarious Moten shared team-high tackle honors for UL with 11 each. Dwight Bently had 2.0 of the Cajuns’ 5.0 tackles for loss and Justin Hamilton posted the game’s lone sack. Kelley, Moten and Melvin White each had two of the squad’s eight pass break ups.
San Diego State drew first blood, taking the opening kickoff and driving 53 yards on 11 plays before Abelardo Perez hit a 27-yard field goal to put the Aztecs on top, 3-0. The Cajuns took the lead two drives later on an 18-yard pass from Gautier to Lawson. Baer’s PAT was blocked, but the Cajuns got the points back plus some as Darryl Surgent returned a punt 87 yards for a score to put the designated home team on top 13-3 one minute into the second quarter.
It remained a 10-point game into the second half, and the Cajuns wasted little time padding their lead in the third quarter as Gautier hit Green for a 20-yard scoring strike 59 seconds into the stanza to give the Cajuns a 19-3 advantage.
The Aztecs refused to go away and made things interesting with consecutive touchdown drives as Ryan Lindley connected with Colin Lockett for a pair of 16-yard touchdown passes with 12:54 and 3:40 left to play in the third quarter. The Cajuns appeared to reclaim control of the contest with a 14-play, 78-yard drive which Gautier capped with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Lawson, but San Diego State kept the pressure on with a five-yard touchdown jaunt with 5:40 left to play in the game to set up the late-game dramatics.
Lindley finished the game 28-of-49 for 413 yards and three touchdowns. Locket and Marcus Russell both caught six passes for 85 and 79 yards, respectively, and Ronnie Hilman paced the Aztecs with 55 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Nat Berhe led the San Diego State defense with 10 tackles (6 solo, 4 assists) and Dey Juan Hemmings posted the game’s lone interceptions with a pick of Gautier in the second quarter. Larry Parker and Leon McFadden each had a pair of pass break-ups to lead the Aztecs.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl,