LAFAYETTE, La. — Aided by the foot of Brett Baer and a defense that forced four first half turnovers Louisiana coasted to a 40-0 lead by halftime and claimed Saturday’s game with Lamar at Cajun Field by that margin in front a home-opening crowd of 25,803.
Baer booted four field goals and the four turnovers the defense forced led directly to 16 points for Louisiana (1-0) which remained undefeated at home under head coach Mark Hudspeth and won its home opener for the fifth consecutive season.
The shutout was the first for UL at Cajun Field since 2002 (34-0 vs. UAB on 9/21/02) and extended the current win streak at the facility to six games dating back to 2011.
The Cajuns retained possession of The Sabine Shoe, the traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the Louisiana vs. Lamar game. It is named after the Sabine River, which helps to form part of the border between Texas & Louisiana. Louisiana is now 23-11 all-time against the Cardinals. It marked the first meeting between the two schools since 1989, as Lamar did not offer football from 1990-2009.
UL had a relatively short field to work with in building the insurmountable edge in the first half. Of the eight scoring drives, only one covered a distance greater than 56 yards and four covered less than 30 yards.
Blaine Gautier and Terrance Broadway combined for 203 yards passing for the Cajuns. Eight different receivers caught at least one pass.
Adding four extra points to his four field goal makes, Baer tied the school record for points scored in a game by a kicker with 16. His four field goal makes extended his current string of consecutive makes to 15, surpassing the previous mark of 14 set by Mike Shafer in 1994.
The Cajuns defense limited Lamar (0-1) to just 194 yards total offense and limited Cardinals quarterback Ryan Mossakowski to 81 yards on his 12 completions. Featured running back Herschel Sims was held to 42 net yards on 14 carries.
UL collected three fumble recoveries, one apiece from Qyen Griffin, Justin Anderson and Rodney Gillis. Gillis collected the Cajuns’ first interception of the season late in the second quarter.
The first of eight straight scoring possessions started after a 41 yard Darryl Surgent kickoff return placed UL near midfield. After crossing into Cardinals territory on a Gautier to Jacob Maxwell connection, Baer put the hosts on the board with a career-long 52-yard field goal at 13:04.
Lamar’s first possession was short lived – lasting only three plays – as Mossakowski was sacked on third down and Justin Hamilton forced a fumble. That set up the Cajuns on the Lamar 29, where six plays later Gautier found Maxwell in the back of the end zone for the first touchdown of 2012 and a 10-0 lead.
A second Lamar fumble of the opening stanza led to Baer’s second field goal of the night, coming at 6:05 upping the lead to 13-0.
One play into the second quarter, the Cajuns finished off a 7 play, 28 yard drive with an Alonzo Harris rushing touchdown.
UL stretched the lead to 33-0 by the 4:43 mark of the second quarter. An 86 yard completion from Gautier to Jamal Robinson resulted in a touchdown and Baer posted field goals of 39 and 32 yards on the Cajuns next two possessions.
Lamar crossed into Cajuns territory only once in the first half and on the very next play Gillis intercepted Caleb Berry at the UL 38.
A Gautier to Javone Lawson touchdown connection with 12 seconds showing on the first half clock capped off the Cajuns dominance and pushed the lead to 40-0.
The first half shutout of the Cardinals marked the first time in the Hudspeth era that Louisiana held an opponent scoreless in the first half.
With the game well out of reach, the Cajuns coasted in the second half and managed the clock.
The Cajuns take the road for the first time in 2012, opening up Sun Belt Conference play with a 6 p.m., contest at Troy on Saturday, Sept. 8. The game will be available nationwide on ESPN3.com.