A second consecutive game was filled with drama for Georgia Southern, but Saturday’s tilt at No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette didn’t end with the same joy as the Eagles’ season-opening victory.
Georgia Southern overcame a catastrophic turnover with under three minutes to play and was successful on both a last-ditch touchdown drive and an ensuing two-point conversion to take an 18-17 lead with just 54 seconds to play.
But the Ragin’ Cajuns sprinted down the field on a desperation drive of their own and Nate Snyder split the uprights from 53 yards out as time expired to allow the Cajuns to escape with a 20-18 victory.
Louisiana (3-0, 1-0 Sun Belt) took its first lead of the game with 10:34 to play when Levi Lewis (18/32, 290 yards, TD, INT) found Errol Rogers on a 27-yard strike to make it 17-10.
Georgia Southern’s Alex Raynor misfired on a 41-yard field goal attempt at the 8:01 mark, but the Eagle (1-1, 0-1) defense held and got the ball back. Shai Werts (xxxxxxxxxxx found freshman tight end Beau Johnson on a pass into the flats. Johnson picked up a block and rolled for 57 yards, but lost control of the ball at the ULL 2, fumbling out of the end zone to hand the ball back to the Cajuns with just 2:48 to go in the contest.
The Eagle defense forced a quick 3-and-out to give the offense one more shot and Werts responded.
The redshirt senior went 5-for-5 through the air on the final drive. Werts and the Eagles were taking small chunks of yardage and quickly running out of time, but then Werts let fly to Khaleb Hood, who made a spectacular one-handed diving catch while taking a big hit in the end zone.
Georgia Southern elected to go for two and Werts came up big again. With nothing initially open, Werts scrambled away from a potential sack and improvised, throwing a perfect strike to Darion Anderson to take the lead.
Unfortunately, Lewis had some magic of his own.
A 19-yard completion to Trey Ragas quickly got the Cajuns near midfield and another hookup with Ragas advanced ULL to the Eagle 36. WIth two seconds remaining, the Cajuns turned to Snyder, who had missed earlier in the game and was just 2-for-6 on the season to that point.
But Snyder came up huge, preserving the Cajuns’ perfect record and national ranking while sending the Eagles home with a bitter loss.
Georgia Southern marched the length of the field on a 15-play drive to begin Saturday afternoon, but came away empty when it was stopped on fourth-and-short at the ULL 5 yard line. The Eagles made good on their second opportunity as another long drive was capped by a 2-yard touchdown plunge by J.D. King on the first play of the second quarter to give them a 7-0 lead.
The Cajuns answered on their next drive as they stormed down the field and Ragas found the end zone from 10 yards out.
Georgia Southern and Louisiana traded field goals in the third quarter at Raynor connected from 27 yards and Snyder hit from 25.
Georgia Southern will be racking up the frequent flier miles this week as it hopes to rebound from its first setback. The Eagles will travel back to Statesboro Saturday night, but will return to Louisiana next week for another Sun Belt showdown against UL Monroe.