TROY, Ala. – Alonzo Harris rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown as Louisiana toppled Troy, 37-24, to improve to 2-0 on the year and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play. The Cajuns win ended a 25-game Troy win streak in home openers, including 21 straight under current head coach Larry Blakeney.
The victory also snapped Louisiana's 21-game losing streak in road openers, a streak that dated back to the 1990 season.
“I am proud of the way our guys came out tonight, battled through a little adversity and won a big game in a hostile environment,” head coach Mark Hudspeth said. “To not lose a home opener in a quarter-century speaks to how tough a place this is to play. To come away with a win is important for us.
“I said all week that the team that wins this game will be the one that wins the turnover battle. Our defense forced three turnovers and made two huge stops on fourth down while the offense didn't turn it over once.”
Terrance Broadway relieved an injured Blaine Gautier in the first quarter and led the Cajuns to the win, completing 10-of-16 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown while also rushing eight times for 43 yards.
“We've said all along that we are very deep at quarterback and Terrance proved that,” Huspeth said. “He prepared hard all week and when Blaine went down, he was ready to go. I thought he did a great job running the offense.”
The performance was a little extra special to Harris, who returned to the starting lineup following the season-ending knee injury last week to Montrel Carter.
After forcing five turnovers last week, the Cajuns won the turnover battle again on Saturday, intercepting one pass and recovering a pair of fumbles while playing mistake-free football.
The Cajuns were outgained in the contest, 588-389, but the difference came in the red zone where UL scored on all six trips, putting three field goals and three touchdowns on the board.
Troy quarterback Corey Robinson was 46-for-70 for 485 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. However, the inability to effectively run the ball repeatedly hurt the Trojans throughout the night. Troy gained just 60 yards on the ground in 27 carries.
The Trojans took the opening kickoff and drove 74 yards to take a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard run by Deon Anthony at 12:15. Early in the drive, Troy was aided by a UL offside penalty on a third down play in which Troy did not convert. With new life, the Trojans quickly moved down the field.
The Cajuns came back late in the quarter as Gautier used his legs to engineer a seven-play, 55-yard scoring drive, capping it off with an 10-yard run with 3:37 remaining to even the game at 7-7. Gautier carried three times for 21 yards on the drive, scoring his 10th career rushing touchdown. The senior was hurt on the play however and did not return to the game
The UL defense put its first points of the year on the scoreboard when T.J. Worthy stripped Troy receiver Chandler Worthy of the ball after a short catch and Jemarlous Moten scooped the fumble up and returned it 56 yards for the touchdown.
It was the third career touchdown for Moten, who returned interceptions for touchdowns in 2011 against both Oklahoma State and San Diego State.
On Broadway's first drive, Harris broke free around the left end for a career-long 50-yard carry on the final play of the first quarter. It set up a 25-yard field goal by Brett Baer with just 105 seconds into the second quarter that put UL ahead, 17-7.
Baer made his second field goal of the game with 7:35 left in the half, another 25-yard effort that was set up by consecutive receptions of 21 yards by Effrem Reed and 32 yards by Jamal Robinson.
Troy was able to get on the board before the half when Corey Robinson completed a five-yard pass to Jaquon Robinson with 0:52 left to pull the Trojans to within 20-14.
The Trojans pulled to within 20-17 on a 33-yard field goal by Will Scott at the 9:50 mark of the third quarter, but the Cajuns came right back, putting 10 straight points on the board.
Harry Peoples caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Broadway with 8:16 left in the third quarter to cap a surgical five-play, 74-yard drive. Broadway started the drive with a 32-yard run and also added a 23-yard completion to Darryl Surgent.
On the Cajuns next possession, Baer converted a 32-yard field goal at the 3:54 mark to put UL ahead, 30-17. The field goal, his seventh in as many attempts this year, allowed him to break the Sun Belt record for consecutive field goals made with 18 going back to last season. Baer surpassed the mark of 17 set by La.-Monroe's Cole Wilson (2006-07).
With the victory still in question and Troy driving, Emeka Onyenekwu intercepted a shuffle pass by Corey Robinson and returned it 11 yards. A 28-yard Broadway pass to Surgent moved the ball inside the 10 and then the Harris helped the Cajuns put the game away when he fought his way into the end zone from two yards out to put UL ahead, 37-17.
The Trojans would add a late touchdown on a five-yard Robinson pass to Eric Thomas with 3:12 left. The Cajuns covered the ensuing onside kick and Troy did not get the ball back until there was just 1:17 remaining.
The Cajuns will take to the road again next week, traveling to Stillwater, Okla. to face No. 18 Oklahoma State on Saturday (Sept. 15) at 11:00 a.m. CDT.
LAGNIAPPE: Junior defensive end Jalen Fields, who had been sidelined since early in preseason camp following gall bladder surgery, made his UL debut, registering a quarterback sack in the second quarter. . . Troy running back Shawn Southard, who gained 204 yards at UAB last week, was limited to 33 yards on 16 carries by the Cajuns. . . although thunderstorms were projected for the game, they never came, allowing the crowd of 17,981 to enjoy a beautiful Alabama evening. . . in addition to his field goal exploits, Baer averaged 43.3 yards on seven punts, including a career-long 69-yard kick to open the fourth quarter.