No. 16 La.-Lafayette tops UTSA 31-24 in First Responder Bowl

Trey Ragas scored on a 1-yard plunge with 7:16 left and No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette beat UTSA 31-24 in the First Responder Bowl on Saturday at SMU's Ford Stadium.

The Ragin' Cajuns (10-1) drove 72 yards in 12 plays for the winning score after UTSA (7-5) overcame a 24-7 second-half deficit to tie it.

UTSA associate head coach/offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. directed the Roadrunners after first-year coach Jeff Traylor twice tested positive for COVID-19 this week and didn't accompany the team.

Levi Lewis had first-half touchdown passes of 15 and 10 yards for Louisiana-Lafayette. Elijah Mitchell added a 3-yard touchdown run, and Kenneth Almendares kicked a 31-yard field goal, The Ragin' Cajuns won their seventh straight game following a loss to Coastal Carolina in mid-October.

Frank Harris had touchdown passes of 29 yards and 10 yards and an 11-yard scoring run for the Roadrunners. Hunter Duplessis kicked a 20-yard field goal that tied with 13:32 left.


Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin' Cajuns, co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference with Coastal Carolina, will finish as a ranked team for the first time, having moved the FBS in 1982. They finished with double-digit wins for the second straight season after never previously doing so.

UTSA: The Roadrunners, playing in the program's second bowl, fell short of compiling the first four-game winning streak in the program's nine-year history.


Louisiana-Lafayette: Lewis, a senior who is 22-6 as a starter, has said he will return next season thanks to the pandemic eligibility exemption. The Ragin' Cajuns are scheduled to open at Texas after upsetting then-No. 23 Iowa State in this year's 2020 opener to end a 20-game losing streak against ranked opponents.

UTSA: The Roadrunners should be experienced at the offensive skill positions with Harris, a junior, and sophomore running back Sincere McCormick scheduled to return. They will open at Illinois on Sept. 4.