LAFAYETTE — With Jamal Robinson on the shelf, it was only a matter of time until James Butler broke out for a big game.
“Just settling into that role as the No. 1 guy is kind of difficult, because you’re not used to things coming your way,” senior quarterback Terrance Broadway said. “But he’s always open.”
That was especially true Saturday night.
The senior receiver was Broadway’s favorite target in the Cajuns’ 19-9 win over South Alabama, hauling in four passes for 91 yards, including a 40-yarder late in the fourth quarter to set up UL-Lafayette’s lone touchdown of the game.
Butler only had three catches in the past four games, but Broadway knew he could count on his battery mate despite the lack of production in recent weeks.
The Cajuns were trailing 9-6 in the third quarter, and the offense went three-and-out on its previous drive when Butler got the Cajuns’ blood pumping again.
Broadway looked Butler’s way on back-to-back passes and Butler hauled both of them in, moving the Cajuns from their own 27-yard line into Jaguars territory with catches of 16 and 22 yards.
After Saturday’s big game, maybe Butler can have the confidence to keep the hot streak going.
“Like I told him tonight, this is something that he is going to build on,” Broadway said. “Now his confidence is through the roof. I’m looking forward to having a very good week with him in practice, because he had a big game tonight.”
Senior running back Alonzo Harris had only one carry after his second-quarter fumble, but Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said it was not a performance-based decision.
“He was sore all week,” Hudspeth said. “We managed to get him back where he could play, but as the game wore on he just was not being himself. He just wasn’t effective — he couldn’t do what he wants to do right now.”
Harris only gained 23 yards on eight carries before leaving the game.
“We’ve got to find a way to get him back healthy,” Hudspeth said. “We didn’t have that 1-2 punch like we normally had in the last three weeks. Hopefully since he didn’t play a lot, maybe he won’t be too sore and we can get him back rolling again for next Saturday.”
Lightfoot earned the start
Linebacker Tre’Maine Lightfoot, who played in his first game of the season last week against Arkansas State, was one of the Cajuns’ two starters at middle linebacker.
Lightfoot started in place of senior Trae Johnson, who was tied for the team lead in tackles with 38. Lightfoot finished with four tackles.
Lightfoot missed the first six games along with quarterback Jalen Nixon for an unspecified violation of team rules. He was allowed to practice with the team during his suspension but was not allowed to play.
Cajuns punter Daniel Cadona, who was coming off special teams player of the week honors, had a rough day at the office. Cadona averaged just 32.3 yards on four punts.
Coming into the game, Cadona ranked among the nation’s best in punting average, but his average dipped after Saturday’s game. He appeared to struggle mainly with his rugby-style punts, which he has otherwise executed well this season.
Cadona shanked two punts in the first half, one of which only traveled 21 yards and gave South Alabama a chance at a 49-yard field goal to close the first half.
Cadona was one of 80 players nominated for the Ray Guy Award earlier this week, which is given to the nation’s top punter at the end of the year.
Sophomore wide receiver Devin Scott set up the Cajuns’ first field goal with a 45-yard catch. The catch was a career long and converted a third-and-28. ... Joining Lightfoot getting their first start of the season were junior Chris Prater and freshman Travis Crawford. ... Kicker Hunter Stover connected field goals of 23, 26, 22 and 32 yards, making him a perfect 10-for-10 on all field goals under 40 yards this season.