Tigers drop season opener to Ragin’ Cajun

News

LAFAYETTE, La. | The Grambling State University football team got an early 22-yard field goal by Garrett Urban, but the Tigers could not sustain the lead as Louisiana used a 21-point first quarter in picking up a 49-17 victory on Saturday night at Cajun Field.
 
After Louisiana went three-and-out on its first possession, Grambling State set up shop at its own 43. On the very first play from scrimmage for the Tigers offense, Geremy Hickbottom connected with Quintin Guice for 47 yards to set up first-and-goal from the 10.

However, GSU (0-1) could not punch in the touchdown and settled for three points as Garrett Urban booted a 22-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 11:57 left in the opening quarter.

Louisiana (1-0) answered on its next drive as the Ragin’ Cajuns marched 81 yards, including 53 on the ground, in eight plays as Trey Ragas punched in a four-yard run to give UL a 7-3 advantage with 8:24 remaining in the first quarter.

After a Grambling State punt, Louisiana went 70 yards in six plays as a Andre Nunez connected with Ja’Marcus Bradley in the corner of the endzone to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 14-3 lead with 4:22 left in the quarter.

The Ragin’ Cajuns took advantage of a short Tigers punt and used just 1:45 off the clock as Jamal Bell caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nunez to cap a five-play, 39-yard drive, giving Louisiana a 21-3 lead with 1:40 remaining in the quarter.

Louisiana continued to add to the lead early in the second quarter as the Ragin’ Cajuns marched 62 yards in five plays as Bradley caught hit second touchdown pass of the night from Nunez, an eight-yard score, as UL extended the margin to 28-3 with 13:05 left in the first half.

After falling behind, 28-3, the Tigers put together a 10-play drive as Hickbottom carried the bulk of the load with a 52-yard run, which set up first-and-goal from the Ragin’ Cajun 3-yard line. Hickbottom completed the 75-yard drive with a seven-yard score with 8:28 remaining.

Louisiana added one more score before halftime as Nunez scored on a four-yard keeper to give the Ragin’ Cajuns a 35-10 advantage.

The Ragin’ Cajuns put the game away early in the third quarter as Louisiana marched 98 yards in 10 plays and took 4:03 off the clock as Levi Lewis connected with Matt Barnes for a 19-yard touchdown to push the advantage to 42-10 with 9:38 left.

A 2-yard touchdown run by Raymond Calais with 3:55 remaining in the third extended the Ragin’ Cajun lead to 49-10.

The Tigers added a touchdown with 3:41 left when Ladarrian Ellis-Jones punched the ball in from the 2-yard line to close the gap to 49-17.

Turning Point
The Tigers started out strong with the defense picking up a sack and forcing the Ragin’ Cajuns to punt the football.

Grambling State’s offense took the ball at its own 43 and on the very first play, Hickbottom connected with Guice for 37 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Louisiana 10.

But the Tigers couldn’t put seven on the board.

Grambling State got seven yards on the ground from Hickbottom and Kevin Dominique, but on third down, Hickbottom was sacked for a two-yard loss.

Garrett Urban’s 22-yard field goal gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead early on, but the Tigers defense surrendered 53 of the 81 yards on the ground as Louisiana scored on its next drive as the Ragin’ Cajuns scored on four straight drives to grab a 28-3 lead.

Inside the Numbers
> Grambling State finished with 15 first downs

> The Tigers amassed 306 total yards of offense, including 159 through the air

> Geremy Hickbottom was 8-of-18 passing for 112 yards and rushed five times for 52 yards, including one score

> Aldon Clark finished with 47 yards on 8-of-11 passing

> Aldon Clark rushed seven times for 41 yards

> Justin Richard tallied 24 yards on seven touches

> Kobe’ Ross caught three passes for 35 yards

> Quintin Guice added two catches for 54 yards

> De’Arius Christmas led the way defensively with nine total tackles, including six solo stops

> Kenan Fontenot added seven tackles, with five solo stops

> Louisiana recorded 27 first downs

> The Ragin’ Cajuns registered 556 total yards, with 315 on the ground

> Andre Nunez tallied 184 yards on 19-of-22 passing and two touchdowns

> Trey Ragas ran 13 times for 142 yards and one score

> Ja’Marcus Bradley caught six passes for 70 yards

> Jacques Boudrea paced the Louisiana defense with four total tackles, including on solo stop and one sack
 
News & Notes
> Saturday’s game was the first-ever meeting between Grambling State and Louisiana

> The Tigers were receiving votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 and FCS Coaches Poll

> Grambling State was ranked No. 1 in the SBN Black College Football Poll and No. 2 in the HBCU BOXTOROW Coaches Poll

> The Tigers are 42-26-1 all-time in season openers, with the last victory coming in 2011

> GSU is 36-44 all-time against teams from the state of Louisiana

> Geremy Hickbottom made his second-career start at quarterback (Mississippi Valley State, 2017)

> Garrett Urban converted his first career field goal for Grambling State (22-yarder)

> Grambling State used a two-quarterback system with Geremy Hickbottom and Aldon Clark splitting time

> Grambling State is 5-2 when wearing the white jerseys and gold pants


Up Next
Grambling State returns to action against Northwestern State next Saturday night in Natchitoches, La. Kickoff against the Demons is set for 6 p.m. at Turpin Stadium. Northwestern State is coming off a 59-7 loss on Thursday night to Texas A&M. This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools, with Grambling State leading the series, 3-1.

Follow Grambling State Athletics

For complete coverage of Grambling State athletics, please follow the Tigers on social media at @GSU_Tigers (Twitter), /gramblingstateathletics (Facebook), @gramblingathletics01 (Instagram) or visit the official home of Grambling State Athletics at gsutigers.com.

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