Maybe reality is better than fiction, because Loisiana-Lafayette’s Christian Ringo’s record-breaking moment couldn’t have been scripted better.
After being shut out in the sack department for the last two games of the regular season and the first 59 minutes of the bowl game, Ringo sacked Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo on the second to last play of the game to break Jeff Mitchell’s 21-year-old single-season sacks record.
“That’s God’s grace,” Ringo said. “That’s all I can say. It’s all him.”
Mitchell, who now serves as a state trooper and a volunteer member of the on-field security, presented Ringo with the game ball in the locker room after the game.
Mitchell said he wasn’t so sure his mark would fall, but if it had to be broken, he’s glad to see his mark broken by a player of Ringo’s character.
“When it got to like 50-some seconds, I was like, ‘Maybe it’ll last another year,’ ” Mitchell said. “But man, I couldn’t be happier for him. I’ve been rooting with him for three games, let’s get it over with. I’m so happy for him, it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”
Besides, Mitchell’s name is still at the top of the school’s record books for career sacks — along with Ringo’s.
The fourth-quarter sack gave Ringo 21 for his college career, which ties him with Mitchell for the most by a Cajuns football player.
You’ll go down in history
The Cajuns became the first FBS program in history to win the same bowl four years in a row. Before Saturday’s win, they were one of eight teams to have won the same bowl three years in a row.
The others were Toledo in the Capital One Bowl (1970-72), Nebraska in the Orange Bowl (71-73), Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl (71-73), Miami of Ohio in the Capital One Bowl (73-75), Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (1978-80), Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (79-81), USC in the Rose Bowl (2007-09) and Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl (10-12).
The Cajuns are also in another select group as one of only eight programs in the country to win at least nine games in each of the last four years. That list can grow by two if LSU and Oklahoma win their bowl games to get to nine wins this year.
Here’s the kicker though: The Cajuns are for sure one of just two teams with at least nine wins and a bowl victory in each of the last four years. The other program will be the winner of the college football playoff game between Oregon and Florida State.
That’s pretty good company.
After three years of setting on attendance record every year, the number of people coming through the Superdome turnstiles for the New Orleans Bowl took a considerable dip this year.
The announced attendance for the game was 34,014, about 20,000 fewer than last year’s record crowd, but still a solid number for a game that kicked off at 10 a.m.
It was the fourth-largest crowd in New Orleans Bowl history. Each of the top four attendance totals have come in the last four seasons with the Cajuns in the game.
Ringo wasn’t the only one to etch his name into the Cajuns history books.
Despite adding what might’ve been the worst punt of his career — an 8-yard shank — senior Daniel Cadona capped a tremendous senior season and two-year career. He set the Cajuns’ single season record for punting average by a tenth of a yard (42.9) and also finished as the Cajuns career record-holder in punting average (42.3).
Sophomore running back Elijah McGuire would’ve needed a herculean game to set the Cajuns single-season record for rushing yards, but his 99 yards Saturday gave him the third-best season from a yardage standpoint (1,264 yards) in school history.
Kicker Hunter Stover drilled three field goals in the game, tying former Cajuns kicker Brett Baer and Southern Miss’ Britt Barefoot’s for the New Orleans Bowl record. Stover would’ve had the record, but he missed a fourth field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter.