5 observations from the Houston Cougars football team’s 23-16 win against Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Houston Cougars football quarterback Clayton Tune played his final game for UH on Friday in the Coogs’ game against Louisiana in the Independence Bowl. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

5 observations from the Houston Cougars football team’s 23-16 win against Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

The Houston Cougars football team wrapped up its 2022 season with a win in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Friday afternoon.

Check out these five observations from the Houston Cougars’ 23-16 victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

Lackluster start

It was 20 degrees throughout the afternoon at the Independence Bowl, but the Houston offense found a way to be colder than the temperature to start the game.

The Cougars’ first three drives were a punt, a turnover on downs, and another punt. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune was sacked once, and the team allowed two tackles for loss that cost them 27 yards in the first half. UH was 1-of-6 on third down and committed four penalties for 35 yards by the halftime break.

Despite the struggles, however, Tune was able to connect with receiver KeSean Carter for two big chunk plays, a 30-yard catch, and then another 33-yard bomb that resulted in a touchdown to put Houston on the board against Louisiana with three minutes left in the second quarter. The score cut UH’s deficit to 13-6. The deficit stayed at seven because kicker Kyle Ramsey missed the extra point.

Defensive woes early turn into strong outing

The Houston Cougars’ defense was punched in the mouth right out of the gate by Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns went on a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which included two third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion.

Louisiana’s drive ended with a 4-yard catch in the end zone by tight end Johnny Lumpkin. Quarterback Chandler Fields went 7-of-8 on his passes for 53 yards in the first drive.

After the Ragin’ Cajuns’ fast start, Houston’s defense was able to hold Louisiana to just two field goals until late in the first half. However, the Cougars allowed another 13-play, 83-yard drive to end the half, which gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 16-6 edge at halftime.

In the second half, the Houston defense pitched a shutout against the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Cougars not only held them scoreless, but they also forced three turnovers in the comeback win.

Fight shown to start the 3rd sparked comeback

The Cougars put their first-half struggles in the rearview mirror, marched down the field, and scored an opening drive touchdown in the third quarter.

Running back Ta’Zhawn Henry set the tone with a 12-yard carry to open the quarter, which drew loud cheers from Houston’s sideline.

Slowly but surely, Houston marched down the field with a 6-yard reception from Joseph Manjack IV, who played in his first game since the Rice game back in September. The Cougars had rushes from Tune and running backs Stacy Sneed and Brandon Campbell.

A 15-yard facemask penalty against Louisiana’s Amir McDaniel provided a boost for Houston’s offense as it got the Cougars into the red zone. After back-to-back rushes from Henry for another first down, Tune connected with receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell on a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut UH’s deficit to just three points.

The Cougars’ defense then forced a Louisiana fumble on the next drive, which gave UH the ball at the Ragin’ Cajuns 36-yard line. Houston was able to get inside the Louisiana 5-yard line, but on fourth-and-1, the Ragin’ Cajuns buckled down and stuffed Campbell for no gain and a turnover on downs.

Houston Cougars football triumph

Houston eventually got back inside Louisiana’s 5-yard line, and this time it got down to the 2-yard line after a pass interference call gave the Cougars first-and-goal. Houston, however, could still not punch it into the end zone and had to settle for a game-tying field goal that evened the score at 16.

Houston’s score came with 13:40 left in the fourth quarter. What followed was enormous struggles from both teams. Louisiana fumbled inside the Cougars 10-yard line on the heels of a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Houston took over and ran four plays for just 19 yards before punting the ball back to the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Louisiana then ran five plays that went 11 yards and also ended in a punt. The Cougars ultimately won the game with a 7-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown catch for Dell. The quarterback, receiver duo, ended the season with 17 touchdowns.

The biggest play of the game came on a first-and-30 that saw Tune connect with Carter for 49 yards which allowed UH to keep its go-ahead drive alive. An interception by Fields on the second-to-last play of the game sealed the Cougars’ win.

Big 12 is next

Now that the 2022 season is officially over, the next time the Houston Cougars football team takes the field, it will be a member of the Big 12 Conference.

The Cougars have a long way to go to not only be competitive in the Power Five league but ultimately reach the level president Renu Khator and vice president of athletics Chris Pezman have said they want to be at, which is competing for championships in the new conference.

Houston’s 8-5 record in its final year of the American Athletic Conference shows there is work to do. However, the Cougars did finish the season with a win. For the time being, the program will celebrate winning the Independence Bowl.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *