LAFAYETTE — With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, a quarterback turned around and put the ball in the hands of a star running back and watched him slowly squeeze the life out of the opponent.
For six weeks, UL-Lafayette followed that script. and for six weeks, the Ragin’ Cajuns were winners. Whether it was Elijah McGuire or Alonzo Harris, the Cajuns were always the hammer.
Sometimes quarterback Terrance Broadway even joined the fun, the Cajuns always moving forward and being more physical than the men in front of them.
Except when Week 7 came around, it was an Appalachian State quarterback handing the ball to an Appalachian State running back.
It was the Mountaineers running backs finding the creases and looking a step faster than the defenders trying to bring them down.
It was the Cajuns wilting in the fourth quarter under the oppressive weight of the Appalachian State rushing offense.
Appalachian State beat the Cajuns at their own game in the fourth quarter Saturday. Because of that, it came as no surprise that it beat the Cajuns on the scoreboard, too, winning 35-16.
“They kept that drive alive and converted some third downs,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “They used up some time and that’s sort of what we have done. They sort of pulled our own game on us there in the fourth quarter.”
First, look at the scenario. The Cajuns trailed by five and punted away to the Mountaineers after going three and out on their first series of the fourth quarter.
The Mountaineers were clinging to a lead the Cajuns had spent the better part of the afternoon scratching and clawing their way back from. They were pinned down at their own 24-yard line after a 47-yard punt. They were going into a stiff wind.
So quarterback Taylor Lamb took the snap, turned around and placed it right in the mitts of sophomore running back Marcus Cox. Then he did it six more times.
Cox picked up 5 yards on the first carry of the drive to set the tone for the Mountaineers’ methodical vise grip finish to the game. Slowly, they bled the Cajuns with 13 cuts.
Cox for 5 more ... Cox for 17 ... backup Terrence Upshaw gives Cox a breather and gains 14 yards on two carries ... Cox comes back in the game and picks up 5, 2, 2, 1 and 2 yards, the last carry going for a touchdown.
Periodically, Appalachian State threw a pass or two to keep the Cajuns honest, but they probably didn’t have to do that. The Mountaineers made the Cajuns submit to their will with brute force. Six precious minutes drained off the clock before Appalachian State finally punched it in to move ahead by two scores.
In doing so, they eliminated the Cajuns’ ability to employ their own wrecking crew of a backfield. The Cajuns had a little more than three minutes to get two scores when they got the ball back. There would be no run-oriented offense in the fourth quarter this time for the Cajuns.
And when the Mountaineers effectively secured the win, stopping the Cajuns’ last-ditch fourth down effort late in the fourth quarter, they turned around and handed it off again — this time to Upshaw, who took it 36 yards for a touchdown on third-and-12.
The final damage: The Mountaineers ran the ball 16 times for 104 yards in the fourth quarter before two kneel-downs dropped them under 100 yards. They controlled the clock for more than 10 of the 15 fourth-quarter minutes.
They crushed the Cajuns chances in 5-yard increments. They beat the Cajuns at their own game.