Press release from UL athletics:
For the first time in program history, Louisiana Football defeated a ranked opponent on the road after it stunned No. 23 Iowa State, 31-14, on Saturday afternoon at Jack Trice Stadium.
Powered by stellar special teams performances and big plays in the second half, the Ragin’ Cajuns secured their first win over a ranked opponent since it defeated No. 25 Texas A&M, 29-22, on Sept. 14, 1996, and their first win over a Big 12 opponent since defeating Kansas State, 17-15, on Sept. 12, 2009.
Saturday’s victory was fueled by a Chris Smith 95-yard kickoff return and an 83-yard Eric Garror punt return, the first time Louisiana finished a game with two special teams scorers since Raymond Calais returned two kickoffs against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 2, 2017.
Louisiana’s defense was stellar all day, holding Iowa State scoreless over the final 31:17 of the contest. Lorenzo McCaskill led the way with 10 tackles, the second double-digit tackle performance of his career the third-most in a season opener by a Ragin’ Cajun. Ferrod Gardner added nine tackles and 1.0 sack, the first full sack of his career.
The defense was also aided by timely turnovers, including an interception by Asjlin Washington, the fourth of his career, and a forced fumble by both Percy Butler and Jourdan Quibodeaux.
Offensively, Levi Lewis finished the game 13-for-21 for 154 yards and one touchdown, a 78-yard strike to Peter LeBlanc. LeBlanc ended up being the Cajuns’ leading receiver with five grabs for 82 yards and the score.
Senior Trey Ragas led Louisiana’s running backs with 49 yards on 14 carries and the final touchdown of the game with 10 seconds remaining.
Iowa State opened the scoring deep into the second quarter when Kene Nwangwu fell into the end zone from one yard out to put the home team ahead, 7-0.
However, the lead did not last long as Smith used his electric speed to break through the Cyclones’ kick coverage unit and scamper 95 yards for the touchdown to tie the game up at 7-all.
The Cyclones regained the lead on its next drive when Hall scored from 11 yards out, but an organized drive by the Ragin’ Cajuns saw the team take the ball 59 yards and set up a 30-yard field goal by Nate Snyder to pull Louisiana within 14-10 at halftime.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, Lewis found a streaking LeBlanc, who hauled in a 78-yard pass to push Louisiana ahead, 17-14, with 2:02 to go in the third quarter.
Louisiana extended its lead early on in the fourth quarter with another big special teams play after Garror broke free on a punt return and scampered 84 yards to push the visitors ahead, 24-14.
Ragas iced the game with 10 ticks on the clock, bulldozing his way into the end zone from two yards out to lock up the 31-14 triumph.
Louisiana returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 19, when it travels to Atlanta to open Sun Belt Conference play against Georgia State. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. CST and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.