It was late in the third quarter and it was already pretty obvious the ULM Warhawks weren’t going down easily Saturday at Cajun Field.
ULM quarterback Caleb Evans connected with wide receiver Perry Carter down the right sidelines for what looked to be a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Instead, redshirt freshman defensive back Kam Pedescleaux’s outright hustle allowed him to tackle Carter at the 4. Three plays later, the Warhawks were settling for a 23-yard field goal and a 28-24 deficit.
A game that wound up being decided by field goals — one made, one missed — was supposed to match the Sun Belt Conference’s best rushing team a…
That obviously loomed even larger a quarter later when the Cajuns survived the scare 31-30.
“We’ve done a good job of defense throughout the season,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “You’re going to give up some plays when that ball gets into the red zone and gold zone, you’ve got to anchor it down and you’ve got to regroup, settle in and play and try to get a stop. We talk a lot about four-point plays and that was a huge possession. Joe Dillon made a couple critical plays in that possession.”
None of it, though, would have been possible without Pedescleaux’s extra effort.
“But for Kam to hustle and get the guy on the ground – a heel-slap tackle there,” Napier said. “It’s a technique that we teach, that coach (defensive coordinator Ron) Roberts teaches. He got the guy on the ground, regroup, play defense, made some stops and they ran their field goal kicker out there. That and the two minutes before the half, those are big possessions in the game.”
Senior linebacker Jacques Boudreaux, for one, wasn’t surprised by Pedescleaux’s heroics.
For all those sweating the details of UL’s 31-30 nailbiting victory over UL-Monroe on Saturday at Cajun Field, there was certainly a lot to be…
“He’s a tremendous player,” Boudreaux said. “That’s why that man was awarded a scholarship. Coach Nap sees the work and that didn’t go unnoticed. We knew Cam could do things like that. Cam’s one of our better players on defense. We know he can put us in good positions to win ball games.
“He went out there and made a hustle play. That’s big-time. That’s exactly what this football program needs in the future going forward. I’m just so happy to call those guys my teammates. I’m thrilled to be a part of this.”
Former UL coach Mark Hudspeth’s Austin Peay team continued its stunning turnaround season Saturday, rolling past Furman 42-7 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Hudspeth, who took over the Governors program in January, led Austin Peay (10-3) to its first FCS playoff appearance after winning its first Ohio Valley Conference title since 1977.
Austin Peay, which went 1-45 from 2013-16 and had a 29-game losing streak in that time, scored 35 second-half points and did not allow a touchdown to the Palladins — ironically, current Cajuns coach Billy Napier’s alma mater. The Governors will travel to play Sacramento State (9-3) in next Saturday’s second round.
The Football Bowl Subdivision breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when three more teams reached bowl eligibility in afternoon games. Wins by Michigan State (6-6), Boston College (6-6) and Liberty (7-5) moved the number of bowl-eligible teams to 78, which is the number needed to fill the nation’s 39 bowl games without the necessity of including a 5-7 team.
A ULM win over the Cajuns would have made the Warhawks bowl-eligible.
The venue was different and many of the circumstances were as well.
UL locked up its seventh bowl appearance this decade by winning the Sun Belt’s Western Division last week. The Cajuns could play in any of the league’s five bowl tie-ins — the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Raycom Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida, all on Dec. 21, the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson, Arizona on Dec. 31 and the Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama Jan. 6. A win in Saturday’s Sun Belt championship game at Appalachian State would lock UL into the New Orleans Bowl.
With Ohio, Mississippi State and Liberty all winning this week to become bowl eligible, UL has played seven bowl-eligible teams this year including three of its four non-conference opponents.
Cajuns kicker Stevie Artigue moved into third place on UL’s career scoring list with his first extra point. That gave him 287 career points, breaking a tie for third with former Cajuns standout quarterback Brian Mitchell and trailing only running backs Elijah McGuire (318 points) and Tyrell Fenroy (294). … After only scoring on its first possession twice in its first eight games, UL has now scored in four straight games on its opening drive. The Cajuns had touchdowns against Coastal Carolina and Troy and a field goal at South Alabama before Levi Lewis’ fourth-down, 36-yard scoring pass to Jamal Bell on Saturday’s first possession. … Cajuns junior defensive back Cameron Solomon was called for targeting late in Saturday’s first quarter and was ejected . … UL’s 99-yard scoring drive in the second quarter matched its longest of the year and bookended the season. The Cajuns had a 99-yard scoring drive in the season opener against Mississippi State in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. UL has three scoring drives of 90-plus yards this year including a 94-yard scoring march for its only score against Appalachian State . … ULM punter Jared Porter’s 72-yard punt in the second quarter was his career longest by 12 yards, topping his 60-yarder at Texas State. …Raymond Calais’ 83-yard touchdown burst with 28 seconds left before halftime was UL’s longest play from scrimmage this season, topping 80-yard runs by Calais against Arkansas State and Chris Smith against Troy.
(Dan McDonald contributed to this report.)