With the loss, the Cajuns fall to 8-4 on the year, while the Wildcats finish the season at 4-8.
The two teams combined for 82 points and 902 yards of total offense in the contest. Junior quarterback Blaine Gautier led the Cajuns, passing for 300-plus yards for the fourth time this season. Gautier posted 315 yards and a touchdown through the air while also rushing for 21 yards and a touchdown.
With the passing touchdown, Gautier tied the UL single season passing touchdown record held by Jake Delhomme (20). He also moved into fourth place in single season passing yards at 2,488, only 11 yards back of Jon Van Cleave for third place (2,499 yards in 2001) and 273 yards back of Jake Delhomme for second all-time (2,761 yards in 1995).
Jemarlous Moten led Louisiana defensively, posting a career-high nine tackles, a tackle-for-loss and two interceptions - including the Cajuns seventh “pick six” of 2011. The interception return for a touchdown ties the NCAA record in a single season set by Tennessee in 1971.
The Ragin’ Cajuns capitalized on their first takeaway of the afternoon as Harry Peoples went 11 yards around the right side on a sweep to put UL in front 7-0 at the 9:18 mark in the first quarter. A 43-yard pass play from Gautier to Javone Lawson set up the score for the Cajuns.
Later in the first half, a rarely-seen defensive holding on a field goal by Louisiana extended a Wildcats drive as Arizona elected to take points off of the board. On fourth-and one from the UL one-yard line, Taimi Tutogi punched it in to even the contest at 7-7 with 14:57 left in the first half.
UL answered with a 14-play 69-yard drive to regain the lead on a four-yard TD strike from Gautier to Alonzo Harris. Brett Baer’s PAT hit the right upright to make the score 13-7 in favor of the Cajuns.
Later in the second quarter, Melvin White blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt by John Bonano to keep Louisiana in front.
Arizona overcame the blocked kick as the Wildcats took their first lead of the game with 3:13 left in the half when Nick Foles connected with Juron Criner for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Cats a 14-13 edge.
Just before the break, Arizona took advantage of a UL turnover to stretch the advantage to eight points after a 12-yard TD pass from Foles to David Douglas with 34 seconds remaining in the half.
UA’s Daniel Jenkins made the score 28-13 at the 7:46 mark in the third quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run up the middle.
After the teams traded field goals, Jemarlous Moten brought the Cajuns within a score at the 13:47 mark in the fourth quarter with his 41-yard “pick six”.
Less than a minute later, Arizona jumped back out to a 15-point lead thanks to a 81-yard kickoff return, followed by a seven-yard touchdown run by Keola Antolin.
Harris’ second TD of the afternoon cut the UA advantage to 38-30, but Arizona scored again on a 35-yard TD pass from Foles to Criner to make the score 48-30 with 6:08 left in the contest.
Gautier quickly engineered a four-play 77-yard drive in 57 seconds ending in his 10-yard touchdown run at the 5:05 mark. The Wildcats held on to the ball for the final five minutes to close out the game.
UL returns to action on Dec. 17 in the 2011 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at 8 p.m. inside the Merecedes-Benz Superdome. The Cajuns are expected to find out their opponent in the next few days.