CONWAY, S.C. — The red-hot UL Ragin’ Cajuns weren’t perfect during their 48-7 road Sun Belt rout of Coastal Carolina on Thursday at Brooks Stadium.
It just looked like it at times.
The Cajuns (7-2, 4-1 Sun Belt) scored six touchdowns and two field goals on their first eight possessions in the Sun Belt Conference game. Coastal fell to 4-5, 1-4.
Meanwhile, the defense followed a three-point output against Texas State by tossing a shutout for three quarters, before Sam Denmark caught a 44-yard touchdown pass with 3:58 left to play.
"We felt like last Saturday our defense played really well — played dominating football, but we kind of sputtered around a little bit in the first half," coach Billy Napier said. "We felt like we we missed an opportunity to play a complete game — put it all together. That was the challenge. Certainly offensively, we needed to play with more effort, more precision, more detail."
Without that play, it would have been the program’s first shutout since a 40-0 win over Lamar in 2012 and the first Sun Belt shutout since beating Florida Atlantic 6-0 in 2006. The victory also improved UL to 4-0 on the road this season — all by double figures.
Quarterback Levi Lewis hit on 17 of 19 passes in the first half for 181 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Lewis finished the game 26-of-30 passing for 296 yards and three touchdowns to give him career bests in completions, yards and touchdowns.
Lewis also set the school record for completion percentage in a game at 86.7 percent.
The Cajuns took the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards on eight plays in 3:41 to open the scoring with a 6-yard TD run from Lewis to get the ball rolling.
The second drive was only successful after a holding penalty because of a highlight-film catch and run by Elijah Mitchell. Facing a third-and-14, the junior running back caught a seemingly-harmless pass out in the flat with a CCU defender converging.
Instead of resulting in a punt, Mitchell somehow absorbed the blow, maintained his balance and turned it into a 31-yard play.
That play transformed the drive into a nine-play, 80-yard march in 4:29 and a 14-0 lead. This time, Trey Ragas did the honors with a 1-yard TD plunge.
The third touchdown drive was almost all about the passing game with Lewis going 7 of 8 on the drive for 70 yards. Tight end Neal Johnson caught the 1-yard TD pass for the first score of his career for the 21-0 lead with 7:17 left until intermission.
Much like Mitchell’s heroic effort, UL’s fourth drive appeared doomed to end until a roughing-the-passer flag extended it. The result was a 21-yard Stevie Artigue field goal for a 24-0 halftime lead.
He later made a 28-yarder to become the school’s scoring leader among kickers with 258 points and is now No. 5 overall.
Defensively, the Cajuns was dominated as well.
As usual, Coastal’s offense moved the ball on its first drive, only to miss a 35-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
Also as usual, UL’s defense stiffened after the first drive, forcing three punts in three drives the rest of the first half.
UL's offense didn't let up in the second half, scoring touchdowns on its first three drives — on 10-yard TD passes to Jalen Williams and Ja’Marcus Bradley, as well as a 52-yard TD run by Chris Smith.
After not catching a pass against Texas State to end his 34-game streak with a catch, Bradley responded with seven receptions for 71 yards and a score.