There’s just no figuring sports sometimes.
Just when it appeared the No. 19-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns had finally subdued visiting Georgia Southern, the Eagles’ offense exploded for 129 yards on its final two drives to take the lead with 54 seconds left to play.
Then when the Cajuns appeared to have no chance of rebounding, the nearly-impossible became reality.
UL graduate transfer Nate Snyder ignored his poor start to the season by nailing a 53-yard field goal as time expired to vault UL to a dramatic 20-18 comeback win Saturday at Cajun Field.
“I had to go out there and do what I’ve done a thousand times,” Snyder said. “Go out there with confidence and just know you’ve made that kick a thousand times before. It’s no different than a PAT. Really, it was just talking to myself in my head that it was like a PAT.”
Except, of course, it wasn’t an extra point.
It was a 53-yarder after having missed four of six kicks in his first three games with a new program after not having attempted a single field goal in his college career at Indiana before coming to Lafayette.
It was also a 53-yard field goal that propelled UL to its first 3-0 start since 1988.
“He’s a very talented young man and like many of us, he makes some fundamental mistakes,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “He makes some technical errors and has missed some kicks. But I’m going to tell you, I think that will do him well in terms of developing some confidence and we’re certainly glad that we have him.
“If you don’t have that kind of talent, you can’t make a 53-yarder. And heck, he didn’t just hit it, he put it through seven or eight yards through there.”
It wasn’t just Snyder who had to forget about some frustration.
The Cajuns had just endured a pair of three-and-outs on its previous two possessions, only to watch Georgia Southern march down the field twice with relative ease to take the lead.
The Eagles’ first drive resulted in a touchback after freshman tight end Beau Johnson fumbled a would-be 59-yard touchdown catch out of the back of the end zone with 2:48 left to play.
But the Eagles quickly marched 61 yards on five plays in 40 seconds to get a 28-yard TD pass to Khaleb Hood with 54 seconds left. Quarterback Shai Werts then escaped a heavy rush to find Darion Anderson in the end zone for the go-ahead, two-point conversion.
At that point, Snyder said he knew what was about to happen.
The progress chart for UL’s young wide receivers took another step in the right direction during Saturday’s 20-18 win over Georgia Southern, a…
“I knew we were going to drive down and get a kick,” Snyder said. “Honestly, I could just feel a long one. I just knew it was going to be a long kick. I don’t know how I knew, but I could just feel it. So I was thinking, I really need to hammer the ball. Some misses I’ve had were kind of more me aiming the ball, instead of just swinging through and hitting the ball.”
For Snyder to be a prophet as well as a hero Saturday, though, UL’s offense had some work to do. It also had to overcome a holding penalty on the drive.
But quarterback Levi Lewis connected with running back Trey Ragas twice for gains of 19 and 18 yards and sandwiched a 12-yarder over the middle to true freshman Errol Rogers. The 18-yarder to Ragas reached the Eagles’ 36 to set up Snyder’s field goal.
Ragas finished the game with four receptions for 54 yards.
“I could always catch,” said Ragas, who ran it 15 times for 52 yards. “I wouldn’t say I improved (as receiver). Y’all just have never seen it before.”
Ragas’ play was critical in the win. With Elijah Mitchell as one of the eight starters out and Chris Smith lost in the second quarter to an ankle injury, Ragas was the only part of the three-headed monster left standing.
“Trey Ragas is a foxhole guy,” Napier said. “He is going to do anything and everything. He’s one of the most loyal, selfless, great attitude, tough, durable (players). You saw the hands and the run after catch there. He was really good today.”
Lewis finished the day 18-of-32 passing for 290 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
And yet, that final drive stalled at the Eagles’ 36, forcing the 53-yarder as UL’s only avenue to success.
Before the kick, Snyder said he had a quick conversation with holder Dalen Cambre.
“I told him before the game, ‘Hey, I’m going to really hammer this ball, so lean the tip of the ball in towards you a little bit so I can get my foot behind it a little more,’ ” Snyder said.
"He (Snyder) has been really good (in practice)," Napier said. "I think it's more of a technical thing. We've been working hard on it. We've got a number of different things we've been doing to try to resolve the issues. If any of you play golf, sometimes that 4-iron is tough on you. You've got to just keep goin' to the range. You've got to keep listening to your instructor and fix your game. He's no different than a lot of us."
Except on Saturday when Snyder transformed himself from a question mark into a hero in one play.