Missed opportunities hurt in season-opening loss to Razorbacks
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Louisiana-Lafayette was not able to keep up with Southeastern Conference opponent Arkansas quite like it did Florida last season.
The Razorbacks had 522 yards of total offense and beat the Ragin’ Cajuns 34-14 on Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
ULL appeared to show some life when, with a 20-7 deficit in the third quarter, the Ragin’ Cajuns forced and recovered an Arkansas fumble. The Razorbacks defense answered by forcing one of its own two plays later, however. The Arkansas offense then capitalized by putting together an eight-play, 49-yard scoring drive to take full control.
ULL coach Mark Hudspeth said his team’s inability to capitalize on the Arkansas turnover was “probably the breaking point” in the game.
“If we could have capitalized on that turnover, our defense had been getting better,” Hudspeth said. “They had finally settled down, gotten a stop or two, then caused the turnover and gave us the ball at midfield. If we could’ve went down and scored, it could’ve been a little more interesting. I just hate that we gave it right back to them.”
ULL (0-1) brought the game back within two scores later in the quarter when quarterback Terrance Broadway capped an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a touchdown pass to Jacob Maxwell to cut the Arkansas lead to 27-14.
But the Razorbacks answered with a 75-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Williams for a 20-point lead.
Williams, a sophomore running back, and freshman Alex Collins became the first Arkansas running back duo to each hit the 100-yard mark since Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did it against South Carolina in 2007. Williams finished with 151 yards on 18 carries and Collins recorded 21 carries for 131 yards.
“We’ve been calling them thunder and lightning all camp,” Hudspeth said of Arkansas’ running back duo. “And I think that’s a pretty good analogy. One runs strong and and is hard to tackle. One is really fast and can break it, which we saw. So I think that they’ve got a stable of backs.”
On ULL’s first two drives of the game, the Ragin’ Cajuns moved the ball well, combining for 134 yards on 22 plays. The first offensive drive consisted of 12 plays and covered 65 yards, but Stephen Brauchle missed a 27-yard field goal at the end of it.
The ULL defense then forced an Arkansas three-and-out, however, which led to a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped by 2-yard TD run by junior running back Alonzo Harris.
Harris’ touchdown, which tied the game at 7-7 just over a minute into the second quarter, was set up by a 31-yard catch by freshman Elijah McGuire. Arkansas (1-0) then forced ULL to punt on back-to-back drives and outscored the Ragin’ Cajuns 13-0 to finish the half.
“I tell you we got in rhythm at times,” Hudspeth said. “The first two drives of the game we methodically dinked it down the field. (We) had answers for things and played with a good tempo. I thought in the second and third quarter, our tempo slowed down.
“We’ve just got to make plays when we get the opportunity. Terrance missed a couple of throws he usually makes. Jamal (Robinson) missed a pass or two he normally catches.
“It was still the first game.”
Following the 7-7 tie early in the second quarter, the Razorbacks outgained the Ragin’ Cajuns by 305 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers in the second half, which Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said fits his style of play.
“That’s kind of the definition of how I like to play games is that second half,” Bielema said. “To wear it down, get some turnovers. People don’t just want to play football for four quarters a lot of the time, so I think our kids bought into it. I think that was a very good football team there.
“Really going back to last spring when I started watching them on film, I was very impressed. They know how to win games and they were within a touchdown of beating Florida, obviously, a year ago. So it’s a good football team and I liked the way they handled it.”
ULL will travel to Manhattan, Kan., next weekend to play Kansas State. The Wildcats lost their season opener 24-21 to FCS opponent North Dakota State.