GAME #64
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles: 2-7
@ Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns: 5-4


Cajun Field
Lafayette, Louisiana

Trip Dates 11/8/2023 – 11/10/2023
School University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Visiting Team Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Pre-game Record: 2-7
Home Team Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns
Pre-game Record: 5-4
Game Time (ET) 7:30 PM Eastern (6:30 local)
Weather 83 & Sunny
Attendees Jarrett & Al 
Jarrett’s Pick Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns
(41 and 22 record)
Al’s Pick Louisiana Rajin’ Cajuns
(38 and 25 record)
Attendance 15,137
Capacity 41,426
Length of Game 3:39
Seat Location 15 Yard Line, Approx. 20th Row
Miles Traveled 1,782
Photo Album Click here for the Louisiana Photo Album


It was a Wednesday evening departure for me on this trip as I opted for a direct flight to New Orleans and the 2 hour drive to Lafayette. I might have mentioned before that West Palm Beach does not have many destinations that you can get to directly, so I had to go to Fort Lauderdale for the direct flight to New Orleans. This was a bit over an hour drive from my home. So there was a lot of driving on this trip.

But let me step back a bit. I flipped on the TV early in the day on Wednesday and the news channel I was watching was doing a story about heavy dense fog that was closing roads in New Orleans. This was surprising and not welcome news. I did a bit of research and it turns out that for like the past two weeks, a wild fire combined with odd weather patterns has been causing random dense fog in and around New Orleans. A few days prior there had been a massive pile up on I-10 involving many cars since visibility in bumper to bumper traffic was such that you could not see the car in front of you, even when not moving. There was one incident involving 158 cars and the fog was being called Super Fog. I have heard about none of this and it was not what you wanted to see on the day of departure.

I started doing some leg work to see if I could fly into Baton Rouge or even Lafayette. At this stage, there was no possibility of that. So I looked for alternative driving routes from New Orleans to Lafayette other than I-10 and stumbled across the Rockaway Boulevard shortcut that a cabbie turned me onto for 5 bucks, also known as Route 90. Many on the internet say this is the better route anyway as for an additional 15 minutes you avoid Baton Rouge which can be a traffic snarl. The benefit being that it went south out of New Orleans thus avoiding the areas where the heaviest fog was predicted. Ok, Rockaway Boulevard it was. For those less informed, the whole Rockaway Boulevard shortcut cabbie thing is a Seinfeld reference. They say no one’s ever beaten the Van Wyck.

Anyway, I got to Fort Lauderdale with no issues, parked and went inside. I was hungry and would need food because who knew what awaited me upon arrival. So I had an early dinner at the Bonefish Grill inside FLL airport. So I need to digress yet again. Yes, one could argue these entire trip reports are digressions, but they are mine, so tough. I had the fish and chips which tasted like you would expect fish and chips at an airport to taste. Yet I have eaten at a Bonefish Grill before and it is normally good. So I ask, why do brands do this to themselves? When you take your brand inside an airport, you are not running things. You are allowing the airport concession vendor to run things. And they are going to screw up your quality and ruin your brand. Is this worth it? I guess Bonefish thinks it is as do many others, but when you are a public company do the executives care about the long term brand or about the short term cash that contract brought in. These deals do not make sense to me, because the quality of these places is never good and people are going to think your restaurant sucks, with the exception of Bobby Vans Steakhouse at the American Airlines terminal at JFK. That place is great.

The flight from FLL to MSY was excellent as I had the entire row to myself which is very rare these days, or does someone know something about New Orleans being fogged in that I don’t? Upon arrival in MSY, I follow signs to rental cars and it is a shuttle bus to the rental car facility. I hate that but what are you going to do? Not only that, the drive to the facilities was woefully inefficient with lots of slow turns for a big bus and the layout of the facility forces the bus to weave in and out and make more long turns. Very time inefficient as well. Who the hell designed this sh**?

After being unable to switch my rental car, I end up in a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Who knew that Mitsubishi still made cars? And I will say that they make them without Apple Car play, so that was a giant pain in the a**. But I do get out on the road and after consulting Google Maps, it is finally decided that Route 90 West to Lafayette would be the route. It was a decent drive at night. No issues. But I do have a question…What is with all the gas station casinos in Louisiana? Is this a thing? I am sure they are video machines but what is the story behind that? I do arrive and check in at the hotel.

You may or may not have noticed this from this report so far, but Al is missing. For personal reasons, he decided to put his faith (again) in the good folks at Delta and ATC (air traffic control), and fly in on the day of the game. So Al had the very early wake up for a connecting flight onto a two seat glider from Atlanta to Lafayette. All this while I slept in and picked him up at the Lafayette regional airport which was about 2 miles from the hotel. I am not sure who got the better end of this deal.

Louisiana Campus

After pickup, we head to the Louisiana campus for the usual activities. First stop, the student union for lunch. We could not locate the food court, even after receiving directions, so we opted for McAlister’s Deli. After lunch, it was off to the bookstore for the usual shopping trip. I will say that the Louisiana bookstore had the most helpful manager that we have encountered. I assume he was the manager just based on what he was doing but this was the most helpful person in a store of our 64 trips thus far. All stores should send their employees to Lafayette for training.

After the usual stops, we walked the campus extensively, and then did a drive around.

Pre Game Meal
After all the walking, driving and sightseeing, we head to Bon Temps Grill, a place recommended by Sam (more later). This was an excellent recommendation. I had the corn and crab bisque soup to start and then the red beans and rice. The red beans and rice were superb and you should give them a try. Highly recommended.

Pre Game
We arrived at Cajun Field with plenty of time before kickoff, as is our usual custom. A shout out to Sam, who is from NY by the way, although the other part of NY, who set us up for some nice pre game access. It was this access that led us to a sign that said “Welcome to Da’ Swamp”. Now, according to Sam, Louisiana started using the Swamp moniker 2 years before Florida. A very quick, and I mean very quick, internet search of this reveals that there may be some truth to this. But I am not sure how much I trust “Billy Bob’s site of down home facts”. It does seem to be true however. But given that this is the first I have heard that Louisiana uses Da’ Swamp to refer to their home field, they may have a branding or recognition issue with it since there are probably few people as up on this as I am. Go big or at least go copyright it. Oh well.

Also, it is interesting to note that Cajun Field is below sea level. So it is like the opposite of Wyoming. I wonder if it is the lowest field in the nation. They should put that on their sideline like Wyoming does. This could be a thing.

Sam also informed us that Louisiana is trying to create a rivalry with Southern Mississippi. Last year Southern Miss gave their students the day off of classes prior to this game so this year Louisiana is doing the same to try to get students to come out and increase attendance. They are also thinking of doing a named trophy attached to the game. That could be fun. I have some ideas for names for trophies, so if this happens feel free to give me a call and I will consult. But as Sam pointed out, Louisiana has lost 10 straight to Southern Miss, so perhaps Louisiana needs to win one before a rivalry can be established. There are high hopes for tonight.

Anyway, we do our usual pre game rituals, Al inspects the horses, sees which horse takes a dump, and we both pick Louisiana.

Frank Gore, Jr. won the game for USM 34-31 in OT with a three yard TD run after LA was only able to kick a field goal on its possession in OT. Gore ended the game with 158 rushing yards on 33 carries. The teams both ended the night with 390 yards, but USM got 229 on the ground versus 130 for LA. If that name Frank Gore sounds familiar, you might be a football fan, because it should. If not, google it and hang your head in shame.

But before all that happened, LA received the opening kick and drove down to the USM 37. LA could not convert on fourth down and turned the ball over to USM on downs. USM took its opening drive to the LA 38 but decided to punt on 4th down and it was a touchback so that punt only netted 18 yards and with a penalty on USM it was only 13 yards. LA then marched 10 plays for our opening score which was a 6 yard TD run and LA led 7-0.

USM would score on its next two possessions, an 80 yard drive and an 83 yard drive to take a 14-7 lead. On the kickoff, LA would return the ball straight up the middle for a 95 yard kickoff return and a tie game at 14.

Right before the half, LA would drive to the USM 1 yard line, but was unable to get the ball into the end zone as time expired. The 2nd and 4th down plays were reviewed and both plays were ruled short of the goal line. 1st and goal from the USM 5 and 4 plays were stopped by the USM defense. Half time score 14-14.

The 3Q was a strange one. It opened as USM fumbled the ball, recovered by LA and returned to the USM 1 before being fumbled again and the ball being recovered by USM in the end zone. So after all that USM which had the ball on their 9 was now at their 20. A missed opportunity for LA.

The teams traded punts before USM missed its first FG of the 3Q. LA punted again and then USM missed its second FG from the same 44 yard distance. LA fumbled the next possession on a bad snap and then a few plays later Frank Gore, Jr. went 17 yards and was in the end zone. USM was up 21-14 with just seconds left in the 3Q.

To start the 4Q, LA drove down to the USM 1 yard line but was denied on 4th down. But the LA defense held on 3 and out. After an excellents punt, LA had to start from its own 38. But on second down, LA connected on a 51 yard pass to tie the game at 21.

Gore would fumble on USM’s next possession and it took one play for LA to connect on a 7 yard pass to take a 28-21 lead. USM responded with a 10 play drive to tie the game with 1:26 on the clock. And this is how the game would enter overtime.

One item of note that stuck out during the game, LA was 2 of 5 on 4th down attempts. There was no conservative play in this one from Louisiana.

Other things of note during the game:
*The Louisiana water ski team has won 4 national titles in a row. Congrats, but it does beg the question…how many water ski programs are there and do they have incentive because if you fall you are eaten by alligators?
*What is sports communications and how does it differ from communications?

Friday Morning Travel
Friday morning it was a not very early wake up as I had an afternoon flight from New Orleans, but I still had a 2 hour 15 minute drive ahead of me. So I headed out mid morning and again opted for the Route 90 method back to New Orleans. I am pleased to say that it was uneventful.

I dropped the rental car off and took the highly inefficient shuttle bus back to the terminal, where I had a bit of lunch at an airport Panda Express and then got onto my Southwest flight back to Fort Lauderdale. I had an empty middle seat in an emergency row so that was ideal. The flight home and the drive home were uneventful. And thus closes another Quest travel year.

Upon arrival at home, Beth has requested a raise for next year.

USM finished the season with a 3-9 record, 2-6 in the Sun Belt which was a 6th place finish in the SBC West. This was the last win of the season for USM, which did not make a bowl game.

Louisiana finished the season with a 6-6 record, 3-5 in the Sun Belt, which was good for 5th place in the SBC West. The Rajin’ Cajuns played in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Jacksonville State (another team the Quest saw play this year) and lost in overtime 34-31 to finish the season at 6-7.

Photo Gallery

For our Louisiana photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.