First Responder Bowl Football

Louisiana-Lafayette linebacker Ferrod Gardner (7), coach Billy Napier and others hold up the trophy after a 31-24 win over UTSA in the First Responder Bowl NCAA college football game in Dallas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

1. Penalties costly all day

From the defensive pass interference flags in the first half to an illegal man downfield that erased a 47-yard pass completion to a holding penalty that negated a fourth-down conversion while approaching the red zone, penalties kept the Cajuns from building on double-digit leads throughout the game. The Cajuns finished the game with 10 flags for 84 yards, compared to seven flags for 66 yards for the Roadrunners.

2. Credit Frank Harris

Sometimes you have to just give credit to the other guy. Every time it looked like the Cajuns were about to build a big lead on the Roadrunners, UTSA quarterback Frank Harris came up with big plays. Hobbling for many of his runs, Harris fooled UL’s defense on numerous occasions to get critical first downs. He also hit a handful of big pass plays, including two touchdown passes in the second half to keep the Roadrunners in it. He finished with 208 yards and 91 passing.

3. Cajuns not sharp, but win

 The big question coming into Saturday’s SERVEPRO First Responder Bowl was exactly how mentally sharp the Cajuns would be. No one doubted the chip UL would have motivation, but how much of the team’s soul was taken by not being able to play for the Sun Belt Conference crown. The Cajuns played hard Saturday, but weren’t sharp at all. The long, complicated layoff seemed to negatively impact UL’s passing game and focus. It might be more fair to blame the defense’s issues on UTSA offense’s execution.

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