Cambre Liberty

UL's Dalen Cambre (11) returns a fumble for a 26 yards for a special teams touchdown for the Cajuns at Liberty.

LYNCHBURG, Va. — No one wanted to hear the news from Thursday morning when UL sophomore offensive guard O’Cyrus Torrence suffered a concussion during a traffic accident on his way to a workout.

But all involved were ecstatic to see redshirt junior David Hudson get the opportunity to start in Torrence’s place at right guard during the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 42-14 road win over Liberty on Saturday at Williams Stadium.

“He didn’t just play, he played well,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “This is a former walk-on. He’s not the biggest, but he’s tough as nails.

“Versatile player, he can play any of the three inside positions. We leave scholarship players home every week and bring him.”

The former Lafayette High standout said he was ready for the call.

“It was unbelievable,” Hudson said of the experience. “Coming in, we knew they were a good team. With Cybo being hurt, I knew it was my time to shine. I practiced all week like I was the starter and it paid off.

“I wasn’t really worried. God has a plan. If he wants it to happen, it’s going to happen. I’m just thankful and blessed with this opportunity.”

Napier said it’s unclear when Torrence will return.

“A guy cut out in front of him, pretty bad,” Napier said. “He’s fortunate. He’s in concussion protocol, so we’ll see. I don’t make those decisions. He wasn’t ready to play, so here we go. David Hudson’s the guy.

“Nobody blinked. He went out there and did a heck of a job. The players were fired up for the guy and his opportunity. The guy’s going to be a heck of a coach one day.

He stepped up. He was ready to do his job for his team tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of the guy to step up in a big moment.”

Special teams roller coaster

It was a lot of good and some bad in the special teams department for the Cajuns on Saturday.

Liberty opened the game with a throwback lateral pass for a 42-yard kickoff return.

“Great opening return of the game,” Napier said. “They take the ball and throw it back across the field. I mean, I’m going to add that to my book. I like that one.”

For the game, the Flames posted 157 yards on kickoff returns.

Also, UL missed a 29-yard field goal and also had an ill-advised 13-yard kickoff return to open the second half to put the offense in a hole.

At the same time, punter Rhys Byrns was effective at 44 yards a punt, while one Liberty punter had a 28-yarder to set up UL’s first score and the other gave the Cajuns their third touchdown when he fumbled the punt with Dalen Cambre there to return it 26 yards for a touchdown after the recovery.

Then they popped a few out to the 30,” Napier said The kicks weren’t great, so we covered them pretty well. We just weren’t getting the kicks that we’d like. They were landing on the 12.

But the guy drops a punt, we’re in position and we scoop and score. We actually repped that in our situational walk-through the day before.”

Bailey’s good return

Until the final drive of the game for the Cajuns, freshman running back Emani Bailey wasn’t in a true three-man rotation for most of the game with only two carries in the first half.

That didn’t mean his return wasn’t critical, though, thanks to a 32-yard reception on the final play of the first quarter that set up the Cajuns’ second touchdown of the night.

“Great three-level stretch play action,” Napier said. “He (Lewis) worked all the way through it and found the back in the flat.

“His acceleration is different than the other two. It’s almost (Raymond) Calaisish – I wouldn’t say quite there, but he brings a different gear to our team.”

And once the lead got out of hand, Bailey was largely responsible for the 12-play, 66-yard drive that finished off the Flames.

That left Bailey at 13 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown for the game in his return after missing three games with a knee injury.


Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.