McGuire, Cajuns Run Past Arkansas State

LAFAYETTE, La. – Sophomore Elijah McGuire rushed for a career-high 265 and four touchdowns to help the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns to a thrilling 55-40 victory over Arkansas State in a nationally-televised game Tuesday night at Cajun Field.

The Cajuns (4-3, 3-0 SBC), who rushed for 419 yards, totaled 521 total yards of offense on the night, while Arkansas State put up 595 yards. McGuire's 265 yards on the ground was the third-most by a Cajun in school history. Alonzo Harris joined McGuire in leading the Cajuns rushing attack, gaining 107 yards and also recording four touchdowns in the victory. Corey Trim led the Cajuns defense with seven tackles, six solo, two tackles for loss and one interception.

The Red Wolves (4-3, 2-1 SBC) finished the game with 253 yards on the ground and 342 through the air. Fredi Knighten went 26-for-37 for 344 yards and three touchdowns with Dijon Paschal being Knighten's primary target, totaling 141 yards on eight catches for the Red Wolves. Michael Gordon led all Arkansas State rushers with 134 yards on 15 carries.

The Red Wolves took little time in finding the endzone in the first quarter, capping a four-play, 71-yard touchdown drive with a 60-yard quarterback keeper from Knighten over a span of 1:14. Arkansas State held a 6-0 lead after an extra point attempt hit the left upright with 11:22 remaining in the first quarter.

The Cajuns evened the contest on their second drive of the game with a four-yard touchdown run by Harris to complete a nine-play, 81-yard drive over 3:37. Broadway found James Butler for 34 yards to move the ball inside the redzone before runs by McGuire set up the Harris touchdown to knot it at 6-6. The Red Wolves kept the game tied with 7:45 to go in the first by blocking the Cajuns' extra point attempt.

A 55-yard run by J.D. McKissic placed Arkansas State deep into Cajuns territory to begin their next drive. However, the Louisiana defense held strong and forced the Red Wolves to a field goal. From 44 yards out, Luke Ferguson converted to put Arkansas State back in front at 9-6 with 4:58 left in the first quarter.

Back-to-back touchdowns for Louisiana propelled the Cajuns to a 20-9 lead less than one minute into the second quarter. After Harris found the endzone for the second time in the game with a 22-yard run, Trim intercepted and returned a Knighten pass for 30 yards to the Arkansas State one-yard line. One play later, Harris punched it in for his third score of the contest to make it 20-9 with 14:16 left in the half.

After forcing an Arkansas State punt, Louisiana continued its offensive explosion with a four-play, 85-yard drive, highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown run by McGuire to give the Cajuns a 27-9 advantage with just over 11 minutes to go in the half.

The Cajuns continued to shine on the defensive side of the ball, forcing a three-and-out by the Red Wolves before Louisiana began another touchdown drive. Unsportsmanlike conduct moved the Cajuns into Red Wolves territory before McGuire added 36 yards on the ground, including a 13-yard touchdown run to extend Louisiana's lead to 34-9 midway through the second quarter.

However, it took Arkansas State just four plays to add two touchdowns and cut into the Cajuns lead. Gordon ended the Louisiana scoring streak with a 70-yard touchdown run for a 34-16 score. The Red Wolves answered again three minutes later with an 87-yard touchdown pass from Knighten to Paschal for a 34-23 halftime score.

After Arkansas State failed to convert a fourth-and-11 on their own eight-yard line, the Cajuns made the most of their good field position as Harris posted his fourth touchdown of the night with a four-yard run up the middle to stretch the Louisiana lead to 41-23 with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Following a three-and-out by both teams, Arkansas State put together a 17-play, 78-yard drive over 6:51 to cut its deficit to 41-26 after Ferguson converted a 29-yard field goal with 10:10 remaining in the game.

The Red Wolves crept closer late in the fourth quarter as a Knighten pass found Paschal in the endzone to make it a 41-32 contest after the two-point conversion failed with 5:32 to play.

The Cajuns answered two minutes later with a touchdown drive of their own. McGuire punched in his third touchdown of the night with a 43-yard score for a 48-32 game with 3:30 to go.

However, Arkansas State was not finished yet as Knighten completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Tres Houston. This time, Knighten found Warren Leapheart in the endzone for the two-point conversion and a 48-40 game with just over a minute to play.

The Red Wolves would not get any closer as McGuire found the endzone for the fourth time with a 54-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to go to seal the Cajuns' 55-40 victory.

Louisiana returns home Saturday, Nov. 1 for a 4 p.m. Homecoming game against South Alabama.

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