Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (10-2) vs #25 Appalachian State Mountaineers (11-1)
The second edition of the Sun Belt Championship Game is set to kick off on December 7 at 11 a.m. CST and will air on either ESPN or ESPN2.
The title game matches the conference’s East and West Division Champions and will be played at the site of the divisional winner with the best conference record.
The two teams met during the regular season in Lafayette. Louisiana’s defense held a high-powered Appalachian State offense to a season-low 17 points, but their valiant effort was not enough as the Ragin’ Cajuns fell to the Mountaineers, 17-7, at Cajun Field on October 9.
Coach: Billy Napier
Louisiana Players to watch:
Senior RT Robert Hunt (6-5/316) & Senior OG Kevin Dotson (6-4/325)
Louisiana’s offensive line, pivotal in creating one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the nation this season, has been named to the Joe Moore Award Midseason Honor Roll, the national organization announced on October 22.
With the help of Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson’s stellar blocking, Louisiana’s running back trio of Raymond Calais, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas have been virtually unstoppable, rushing for 2,193 of the team’s 2,797 total yards and accounting for 28 of the team’s rushing scores.
According to the voting committee, “Louisiana may be the most physical G5 school unit we have seen on film. They come off the ball and combo block and double team with bad intentions. They seek and destroy when getting out in space on screens and they show that #PassProIsNotPassive! Louisiana has been a pleasant surprise and I predict they will have a couple of guys drafted from their unit next spring.”
*Junior RB Elijah Mitchell (5-11/221)
Mitchell was named second team All-Conference last year, finishing with 1,334 total yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. He wrapped up his junior season with 1,007 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Mitchell has been the bell-cow this year, getting 60 more carries than Ragas.
Junior Trey Regas was the team’s top rusher in ’17; and again in ’18, when he was named third team All-Conference, finishing with 1,410 total yards and ten touchdowns.
Raymond Calais, a senior from Breaux Bridge, is the third part of Louisiana’s triple threat. Calais is the speed guy. He was named Sun Belt offensive player of the week (Oct 17) after an incredible showing in front of a national audience, Calais racked up 144 total yards on eight carries and found the endzone twice.
Senior WR Ja’Marcus Bradley (6-1/195)
Earlier in the season, Bradley was the second-highest graded wide receiver in college football with a grade of 88.6 right behind LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
A native of Ackerman, Mississippi, Bradley has compiled 136 receptions for 1,963 yards and 18 touchdowns during his career at UL. In 2018, he tied the Cajuns’ single season record for TD catches (10) and led the team with 608 yards. Bradley has caught 36 passes for 510 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Louisiana Head Football Coach Billy Napier spoke about Bradley at the beginning of the season, saying, “He’s a tremendous practice player and he’s a very consistent guy. I mean you know what you’re getting out of him every day.”
Senior CB Michael Jacquet (6-2/195)
Jacquet has turned into a dominant defensive force for Louisiana in this recent season. He is fourth on the team with 30 tackles, recording two interceptions in the season against Liberty and Texas State and adding four interceptions to his career total. Jacquet also recorded his first career sack and forced fumble against Mississippi State, with three pass breakups against Liberty, Ohio and Arkansas State. A former wide receiver, Jacquet possesses good size, length, and fluidity to be an intriguing prospect at the next level.
**Sophomore NG Zi’yon Hill (6-2/286)
Hill has 19 solo tackles coming from his nose guard position, along with 21 assists. Hill played 10 games as a redshirt freshman, already proving to be one of the better defensive lineman in the conference recording 47 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
Coach: Eliah Drinkwitz
Appalachian State Players to watch
*Junior RB Darrynton Evans (5-11/191)
By Week 10, Evans surpassed a special milestone. He registered his second straight season of 1,000 yards or more. The junior currently sits at 1,250 yards in 2019 with 16 touchdown runs. “I would say the offensive line was more excited than I was once I got to the sidelines but that’s a major accomplishment,” Evans said. “Something you set at the beginning of the year, a solo goal, but it’s really a team effort.”
Senior LT Victor Johnson (6-5/296)
Appalachian State was also name to the Joe Moore Midseason Honor Roll in 2019. Their front five have made a combined 123 starts in their careers. Redshirt senior Victor Johnson leads the way with 43 starts in 44 career games, and center Noah Hannon has started all 32 games since he enrolled at App State.
The committee had high praise for App State’s line, saying, “This is a ‘must-watch’ unit. They consistently display many of the award criteria that we look for, with their technique, physicality and effort being the pillars of their success. Their O-line is a huge reason why Appalachian State is undefeated.” (App State has since been defeated by Georgia Southern on Oct 31, 24-21.)
Senior ILB Jordan Fehr (6-3/226)
Fehr is not only an outstanding football player, but he is also a semifinalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy which recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
Fehr has a 3.77 GPA as a management major who repeats as an Academic All-District selection. The reigning first-team All-Sun Belt linebacker has 69 tackles to rank second on an 8-1 team that’s in the top 25 of both the College Football Playoff rankings and Amway Coaches Poll.
Senior ILB Akeem Davis-Gaither (6-2/208)
The son of Western Michigan assistant and former Elon standout Keith Gaither. Davis-Gaither has thrived in his final season for a Top 25 team, posting 74 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and six PBUs to go along with his second-half interception and game-ending block of a field goal in the 34-31 win at North Carolina. He also led the Mountaineers’ defense in total tackles last year.
*Junior DE Demetrius Taylor (6-1/260)
Taylor arrived at Appalachian State in 2017 and has appeared in 25 of the 26 games the Mountaineers have played since he joined the program. Defensive Line Coach Anwar Stewart says, “Taylor has the strength to blow up blockers.” And that he “sees in Taylor a player who could be incredibly difficult to stop” if he were to add the complementary finesse moves that will help him take advantage of his speed.
In the last meeting against Louisiana (Oct 9), Demetrius Taylor had a sack, a touchdown-saving fourth-down tackle, and a quarterback hurry that forced the Ragin’ Cajuns to punt.
Kidd Brewer Stadium – Field Turf
Dec. 7 | Boone, NC