Trey Ragas ran for two third-quarter touchdowns and No. 25 Louisiana survived two late scoring chances from Appalachian State to win 24-21, defeating the Mountaineers for the first time Friday night in Boone, N.C.
Appalachian State kicker Chandler Staton missed on a 30-yard field goal boot withone second remaining that likely would have forced overtime.
The teams played Appalachian State's home finale in miserable rainy conditions.
Levi Lewis was 8-for-23 passing for 101 yards for the Ragin' Cajuns (9-1, 7-1 Sun Belt Conference), who already had clinched a spot in the league's championship game.
Appalachian State, trailing 24-19, threatened by moving to the Louisiana 23 before a fourth-down sack with about two minutes remaining. The Mountaineers used two of their timeouts on defense before the Ragin' Cajuns intentionally took a safety at the 1:46 mark rather than risk a punt because three earlier punt snaps went over the punter's head.
Then the Mountaineers used a defensive pass interference penalty, putting the ball at the 13-yard line. Two incompletions preceded the field-goal try, which sailed wide left.
Zac Thomas was 10 of 21 passing for 92 yards for the Mountaineers (7-3, 5-2). Camerun Peoples rushed 21 times for 99 yards.
Ragas had scoring runs of 17 and 1 yards for a 24-10 lead. Teammate Elijah Mitchell had 95 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
Appalachian State responded on Peoples' 1-yard run to cap an 80-yard, 14-play drive with 8:17 remaining. Then came two safeties that helped cut the gap.
Earlier, Mountaineers running back Nate Noel opened the scoring on a 33-yard run in the first quarter. This came after Appalachian State took possession at midfield following a botched Louisiana punt play.
The Mountaineers got another chance in ideal field possession after a botched Louisiana snap in punt formation allowed Appalachian State to take over at the Ragin' Cajuns' 22-yard line. That chance went awry on Staton's missed field goal from 37 yards out in the final minute of the opening quarter.
Likely because of the rain-swept field, the teams began with a mostly conservative approach. They combined to attempt eight first-quarter passes, with just one completion.
Appalachian State led 10-9 at halftime after Kenneth Almenda's 26-yard field goal on the last play of the first half for Louisiana.
These teams met the last two Decembers in Boone in Sun Belt Conference championship games, with the Mountaineers winning both times. This time, Louisiana entered this matchup having already secured a spot in the league title game for later this month.
Appalachian State, which has one regular-season game remaining, was aiming to bolster its bowl stock.
--Field Level Media