LAFAYETTE — It came in a losing effort, but Louisiana-Lafayette senior receiver Jamal Robinson turned back the clock Thursday night at South Alabama.
Robinson, who has spent the majority of the season trying to rediscover his old form after missing most of last season with multiple injuries, turned in career highs in catches (10) and receiving yards (188) in a 32-25 defeat to a South Alabama team that entered the night ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt in pass defense.
“Jamal had a great night,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “That’s the Jamal Robinson we’ve been accustomed to seeing, but more on a consistent basis. I was proud for him.”
With South Alabama becoming the latest team to stifle the Cajuns running game — they have managed just 3.1 yards per carry in their past three games — Robinson’s emergence was a crucial factor in the Cajuns getting back into the game in the fourth quarter.
He caught three passes for 90 yards on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to bring the Cajuns back within a score, including a vintage Jamal Robinson 45-yard touchdown catch down the sideline.
Robinson frequently was working deep down the field, something the Cajuns haven’t done much this season. But they opened up the offense late against South Alabama with solid effect.
“We felt that we could take a few shots,” Hudspeth said. “We felt we could get behind them, and we felt like we had to throw the ball to get back in the game, and boy did we.”
While he has still been up and down as the season reaches its late stages, Robinson has shown signs that he’s settling into a more consistent groove.
He has touchdown catches in three of his past five games and is averaging about five catches for 76 yards per game during conference play. Those numbers fall right in line with what he did last year and his junior season.
What’s left to play for
With three games to go, the goal is simple for the Cajuns. To reach the postseason, they have to win more than they lose.
The Cajuns are two wins shy of bowl eligibility. They have games remaining against New Mexico State (2-7), Appalachian State (8-2) and Troy (3-7).
“If we make it easier on ourselves and just win these next three games, then we don’t have to worry about it,” quarterback Brooks Haack said. “But that’s in hindsight right now. We’ve got to focus on New Mexico State and peel them off one at a time.”
New Mexico State has just two wins, but it enters the game as winners of two straight thanks to the efforts of one of the hottest players in college football.
Running back Larry Rose III, a sophomore, has eclipsed 180 rushing yards in each of his past three games, and he topped 200 in both of the Aggies’ wins. In his past three games, Rose is averaging 7.8 yards per carry.
He is leading the Sun Belt with 1,290 rushing yards and also has caught 24 passes for 276 yards.
Rose left last year’s game against the Cajuns in the first quarter with an injury after rushing four times for 25 yards.