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Ragin' Cajuns win New Orleans Bowl on final play

Dec 18, 2011 - 8:07 AM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Brett Baer nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired to lift Louisiana over San Diego State, 32-30, in the New Orleans Bowl.

Baer originally lined up for a 55-yard attempt, but an encroachment penalty on San Diego State moved the ball forward, allowing the kicker to sneak his kick inside the left upright.

"(San Diego State) tried to draw us offsides either with a movement or noise or voice," Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "They called it on them instead of us. To be honest with you, it was long enough to make it if he didn't move it up. This kick will go down in history."

Blaine Gautier completed 24-of-40 passes for a career-high and New Orleans Bowl record 470 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Ragin' Cajuns (9-4).

Javone Lawson hauled in nine passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, while Ladarius Green added five catches for 121 yards and a score in Louisiana's first Division I bowl game.

Ryan Lindley threw for 413 yards and three touchdowns on 28-of-49 passing for the Aztecs (8-5), who were seeking back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history.

Last year, the Aztecs recorded a 35-14 win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Dylan Denso had five receptions for a team-high 109 yards, while Colin Lockett added six catches for 85 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.

"I thought it was an exciting game. I thought we played pretty well on offense, even though we had a couple of scoring opportunities that we didn't take advantage of," San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said. "Both offenses moved the ball well, both threw it and caught it well. Both secondaries played poorly. That's what happened."

Holding a slim 26-24 lead with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Ragin' Cajuns drove down to the Aztecs' five-yard line thanks to a couple of circus catches by Darryl Surgent and Lawson, both of which converted third downs.

Louisiana could not push the ball into the end zone, though, and had to settle for a Baer 22-yard field goal with 2:09 to go.

Faced with a 4th-and-2 at the San Diego State 39 on the ensuing drive, Lindley's pass intended for Gavin Escobar fell incomplete. However, Louisiana was flagged for pass interference on the play to keep the drive alive.

Lindley found Lockett seven plays later on a post over the middle for a 12- yard score to give San Diego State what appeared to be the game-winning score with 35 seconds left, despite the Aztecs failing on their two-point conversion attempt to keep the score 30-29.

But Gautier hit Lawson for gains of 13 and 26 yards on consecutive plays to move the ball to the San Diego State 43, and then came another completion to Harry Peoples to set up Baer's game-deciding kick.

"We fight so hard and we always talk about the fourth quarter being our quarter. Words are just hard to find," said Gautier. "It's just a great feeling to be able to share this moment, something that's going down in history."

San Diego State took the opening drive of the game down to Louisiana's four- yard line thanks to Lindley converting a couple of long third-down passes, but Ronnie Hillman was stuffed for a six-yard loss before a couple of incomplete passes held the Aztecs to a 27-yard Abelardo Perez field goal.

The Ragin' Cajuns got on the board when Gautier found Lawson for an 18-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. But Baer's extra-point attempt was blocked to make the score 6-3.

The Aztecs could not convert a first down on the ensuing drive and were forced to punt early in the second quarter. Surgent then gave Louisiana a 13-3 lead with an 87-yard punt return in which he started right before bouncing out to the left for the touchdown.

"Our coverage wasn't as solid as it should be on one side," Long said about the punt return. "When it looked like we were going to make a tackle, our guys folded inside instead of staying in their lanes and it spread the field."

The score remained that way at the half as each team failed to convert fourth downs inside the other team's 10-yard line.

The Ragin' Cajuns quickly extended their lead on the opening drive of the second half on a three-play, 73-yard march. Lawson hauled in a short pass and rumbled for 52 yards on second down to set up Green's 20-yard TD reception. Baer's extra-point attempt was no good, making it a 19-3 game.

San Diego State responded with a quick strike of its own to bring the Aztecs within nine. Lockett's 44-yard kickoff return gave the Aztecs the ball inside Louisiana territory and Lindley finished off the two-play drive with a 16-yard TD pass to Lockett.

After a Baer punt pinned the Aztecs at their own one-yard line late in the third quarter, Lindley completed 4-of-5 passes, including a 32-yard strike to Escobar on a 3rd-and-7, to lead San Diego State down the field.

Lockett ended the 99-yard drive by hauling in a 16-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone to make the score 19-17.

Louisiana's ensuing drive lasted 14 plays and stretched into the fourth quarter as the Ragin' Cajuns converted three third downs before Gautier hit Lawson over the middle for an 11-yard TD to give Louisiana back a little cushion in its lead.

Perez missed a 36-yard field goal on the ensuing drive, but after a Louisiana punt, Adam Muema capped a 55-yard march with a five-yard scamper into the end zone to bring the Aztecs within two points at 26-24.

Game Notes

Gautier finished the season with 23 touchdowns, breaking Jake Delhomme's previous school record of 21...Lindley's 413 yards gave him a total of 3,153 for the season, making him the third quarterback in Mountain West Conference history to have at least 3,000 yards passing in three consecutive seasons...Hillman had 55 yards on 24 carries.