The New Orleans Bowl was one of the best early bowl games of the 2021 season. Louisiana defeated Marshall 36-21 in what seemed like a not so close game. The Ragin Cajuns end the year with a program-record 13 wins. Marshall gave Louisiana all the team could handle. But in the end, the Cajuns prevail as 2021 New Orleans Bowl champions.
Louisiana Wins 2021 New Orleans Bowl
Levi Lewis opened the scoring on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Kyren Lacy. Nearly eight minutes later, Nate Snyder booted a 42-yard field goal to give the Ragin’ Cajuns an early 10-0 lead. Just before the end of the first quarter, Marshall scored on a 63-yard run by Rasheen Ali.
In the second quarter, the Herd jumped up 14-10 on another touchdown from Ali. Louisiana led 16-14 at halftime as Snyder booted two field goals in the quarter. Marshall’s final touchdown came in the third quarter as Ali took a run for nine yards to the end zone to give the Herd a 21-16 lead.
Cajuns Take Over in Final Quarter
The fourth quarter was all Louisiana. The final 20 points of the game came in the final 15 minutes. Emani Bailey scored twice to put Louisiana up big. While the Thundering Herd kept it close, Louisiana took control in the fourth quarter on a touchdown run by Montrell Johnson to take a 29-21 lead. After Marshall stalled on offense, the Cajuns drove down the field once more. A two-yard run by Bailey sealed the 36-21 victory.
Louisiana totaled 23 first downs and 498 yards of offense. Lewis passed for 278 yards on 20-of-32 passing. Cajuns running back Bailey led the team with 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts.
Ali Leads the Way for Marshall
For Marshall, Ali was the key focal point. While he had three scores, the Herd star tailback averaged just over six yards per rush. Louisiana’s defense allowed Ali to total 160 yards on the ground. The Thundering Herd’s passing attack average at best. Freshman signal-caller Grant Wells totaled just 99 yards through the air and averaged under four yards per completion.
While the Cajuns failed to contain Ali, the defense was solid in pass coverage. Keeping Marshall from getting chunk plays through the air made the Herd a one-dimensional team. But when the defense started to hold Marshall on third down, the Cajuns’ offense responded well with a significant drive to score.
2021 New Orleans Bowl Final Thoughts
New Louisiana head coach Michael Desormeaux begins his tenure with a big-time victory to end the season. The Cajuns will finish the season as the second or third-highest ranked Group of Five team. That is a monumental accomplishment for Desormeaux’s program.
The 2021 New Orleans Bowl was one of the best overall games in the bowl’s history. Louisiana now owns five wins in the New Orleans Bowl. To add to that, the Sun Belt Conference has now won 16 of the last 21 games in the bowl’s history. Despite losing head coach Billy Napier to Florida, the Cajuns responded well and ended the 2021 season on a high note. But for Marshall, the reflection on 2021 should be positive. The Herd finish 7-6 but secured a bowl berth and fought hard against a solid Cajuns team.