Louisiana-Lafayette falls 40-29 to Florida Atlantic

  • By PETE PELEGRIN
  • Special to The Advocate
  • Published: Nov 16, 2008 - UPDATED: 12:35 a.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Louisiana-Lafayette can now focus on Troy, but the Ragin’ Cajuns might have been doing that before their game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Hampered by a shoddy defensive performance and a sputtering offense, the Cajuns fell to the Owls 40-29 at Lockhart Stadium.

Despite the final score, the game was decided by halftime. The Cajuns will now play at Troy on Saturday for at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference title on the line.

ULL trailed 19-0 in the first half after allowing 262 passing yards and could not recover.

“We didn’t come out with any emotion,” ULL safety Derik Keyes said. “We were relaxed at the beginning of the game all around — defensively, offensively and special teams. We came out too relaxed throughout the whole game just thinking we were going to win. We were just thinking they were going to lay down and it didn’t happen.”

Said Cajuns coach Rickey Bustle: “I was embarrassed the way we played. We let people go, running around the field and (FAU quarterback) Rusty (Smith) throws the ball and we weren’t within 10 feet of it. Offense, we didn’t move the ball. There was just no consistency.”

After taking the opening kickoff, FAU needed just four plays to score its first touchdown.

From the Owls 36 on the first play from scrimmage, Smith connected with tight end Rob Housler for 28 yards. Smith then found receiver Chris Bonner for 15 yards.

FAU running back Charles Pierre ran for 15 yards on the third play. Pierre walked into the end zone untouched on a 6-yard touchdown run.

ULL defensive end Nate Douglas blocked the extra point to leave FAU ahead 6-0.

The Cajuns went three-and-out on their first possession.

The second time ULL had the ball, quarterback Michael Desormeaux ran for 9 yards, but took a shot to his injured knee and had to come out for one play.

On the ensuing play, backup quarterback Brad McGuire couldn’t handle the shotgun snap from center Chris Fisher. FAU recovered at the ULL 29.

“As an offense, we didn’t come out in the first half,” said running back Tyrell Fenroy. “We didn’t play hard coming out. We just laid down and it’s really embarrassing.”

The Owls scored three plays later on a 13-yard pass from Smith to Bonner. ULL safety Gerren Blount blocked the extra point and FAU led 12-0.

At the start of the second quarter, the Cajuns had their first scoring chance.

With the help of Fenroy’s 21-yard run and a face-mask penalty, ULL drove from its 22 to the FAU 14.

On third-and-1, Fenroy was stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

Bustle then opted to go for it on fourth down. Desormeaux tried to run off left tackle, but was stopped for a 1-yard loss.

“I don’t know what the problem is,” said Desormeaux, who was 11 of 18 for 84 yards with two interceptions. “We have to grow up as a team. We got to start playing these big games, because that’s what this was — a big game — and we just laid down in the first half.”

FAU’s offense took its defense’s momentum and marched to its third touchdown of the first half.

Smith found tight end Jamari Grant wide open in the middle of the field for a short pass, but Grant outraced the Cajuns secondary to pick up 51 yards to ULL 14.

Two plays later, Smith and Housler hooked up for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

This time, FAU kicker Warley Leroy converted the extra point and FAU extended its lead to 19-0.

The Cajuns got their first touchdown on the next possession.

Desormeaux went to the air and threw for 47 yards on the drive. Desormeaux and Ladarius Green connected for passes of 20 and 16 yards to help move the Cajuns to the FAU 14.

From there, Fenroy plowed up the middle 14 yards for a touchdown.

Fenroy was pulled at the end of the third quarter after FAU built a 33-7 lead.

The Cajuns all-time leading rusher ran for 92 yards on 18 carries against the Owls and got closer to a couple more records.

Fenroy is now 17 yards from the state career rushing record held by former LSU and current New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk (4,557 yards). Fenroy has 4,540 yards.

Fenroy (1,269 yards this season) also moved within 42 yards of Brian Mitchell’s ULL single-season rushing record of 1,311 yards.

Fenroy’s touchdown gave him 46 in his career, just one away from Mitchell’s ULL record of 47.

The Cajuns broke their single-season record for touchdowns when Scooter Rogers returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 40-21 in the fourth quarter.

It was ULL’s 47th touchdown of the season eclipsing the 1995 Cajuns’ mark of 46.