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No. 20 La.-Lafayette topped the St. App St. 24-16 for the Sun Belt title

LAFAYETTE, La. – Billy Napier spent time strolling the Cajun field, soaking in tournament championship celebrations, and sometimes wiping his eyes, after his last game as coach at Louisiana-Lafayette before taking over the Florida Gators.

Levi Lewis scored on a career-high 56-yard run and overcame another touchdown, and the Louisiana-Lafayette No. 20 beat the Appalachian State 24-16 on Saturday in the Sun Belt championship game. Conference.

“I feel like we’ve been chasing this for a long time,” said Napier, who coached the Ragin’ Cajuns to four consecutive Sun Belt West Division titles and lost their first two championship games. of the congress and the 2020 title match is cancelled. because of the pandemic.

Napier was hired by Florida last weekend to fill the void created by the firing of Dan Mullen, but he is adamant he can coach the Cajuns in their congressional title game before leaving the team to turned to a bad game without him.

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“For me, there is nothing more important than doing the work for the players on this team, and you have to commend the players for their ability to focus,” said Napier. “Our team is well prepared. No question. We made our plan tonight.”

Emani Baily charged 117 yards, featured by his 35-yard touch in the third and ninth games to give the Cajuns a two-touch lead early in the fourth half.

Lewis crossed 210 yards without a turnover and finished with a quick 43 yards as the Louisiana-Lafayette (12-1, 9-0 Sun Belt) extended the school’s winning record to 12 games.

“It meant the whole world,” Lewis, a fifth-year senior and just starting three years, said of winning the tournament. “I’ll go home and just cry. …It’s been a long time since I won this championship.”

Cameron Pe People’s made a 43-yard touchdown in the first half for Appalachian State (10-3, 7-2), but the Mountaineers’ strike struggled to match the usual course of play. its.

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Appalachian State QB Chase Brice, who averaged 241.8 yards of passes per game in the regular season, completed 12 of 30 119-yard passes and was fired three times – twice by the defensive midfielder Zi’Yon Hill of the Cajuns.

The only time this season that Appalachian State has scored less than 16 points was a 41-13 loss at Cajun Field in October.

Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark noted that the Cajun defense was able to block the run while playing two deep safety games, adding that when the opponent can do that, “it’s going to be a long day.”

But Brice scrambled for a few firsts and kept the climbers’ hopes alive in the fourth quarter as he showed up in the 4th and 10th innings and connected in the middle with Thomas Hennigan, who slipped the ball to Go to the end area. The climbers then made two hits but the Cajuns pressured Brice to make a misfire.

App State got the ball back again at its own 35-yard line, dropping eight to 29 seconds, but outside full-back Chauncey Manac stripped Brice near midfield and found the fumbling again to seal the game. win.

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“It was a fantastic game of football,” said Clark, “while commending his team’s effort and the Cajuns’ performance. “We just couldn’t get into the rhythm we were used to.”

Lewis made several big throws in the opening series of the game to give the Cajuns an early lead, starting with completing a 35-yard throw ahead of Peter LeBlanc in 3rd and 7th. Lewis continued to drive with finished 10 yards ahead of Dontae Fleming while competing for the left in fourth and third. That set up a 27-yard Lewis header for Michael Jefferson.

The Cajuns took a 14-0 lead on Lewis’ long TD run on a read option play.

“That kid, he’s one in a million – one in 10 million,” Napier said of Lewis, highlighting the midfielder’s work ethic and knack for instilling confidence in teammates. an incredible person and that’s what that guy is. “

Lewis’ 30-yard pass to LeBlanc in the last minute of the first half helped the Cajuns score to make it 17-7 in the last minute of the first half for Nate Snyder.

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The climbers nearly closed the gap when Corey Sutton got both hands on Brice’s 39-meter pass to the bottom corner of the penalty area, but corner-back Eric Garror cleared the ball as both players down the field. That shot ended with a goal on the field.

CARRIED AWAY

Appalachian State: The Climbers’ only loss in a convention game all season was against Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette. This is the third time in four years the Appalachian State has played in the Sun Belt title game, beating Louisiana-Lafayette twice for the first time in Boone, North Carolina.

Louisiana-Lafayette: Napier finished 40-12 in four years – 33-5 over the past three seasons.

“I would say I hope some of the progress we’ve made is continued,” Napier said, praising the way the players at ULL and the surrounding community have affected him and his family. . “They’ve impacted us. We’re better off because of our time here.”

NEXT

Appalachian State: Waiting for its seventh consecutive match is a bowl match.

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Louisiana-Lafayette: Waiting for the program’s fourth consecutive bid.

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https://www.ksat.com/sports/2021/12/05/no-20-la-lafayette-tops-app-st-24-16-for-sun-belt-title/ No. 20 La.-Lafayette topped the St. App St. 24-16 for the Sun Belt title

Huynh Nguyen

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