UL's Hudspeth apologizes to Arkansas State coach

Tim Buckley

UL coach Mark Hudspeth on Monday acknowledged he called Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson on Sunday to apologize for the behavior of some Ragin’ Cajun players late in Saturday’s 24-19 Cajun win over the Red Wolves.

UL coach Mark Hudspeth works the sideline last Saturday in a win over Arkansas State.

But Hudspeth on Monday also said he was not “embarrassed,” something Anderson said Hudspeth also told him on Sunday’s phone call.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday on its website, ArkansasOnline, that “Anderson, speaking during his weekly news conference Monday, said Hudspeth ‘apologized for the attitude of his guys,’ adding that the Ragin’ Cajuns coach was ‘embarrassed’ for how they handled the final tense moments of their 24-19 victory.”

To set the scene:

On fourth-and-10 from the 11-yard line Saturday, Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen hauled down by UL’s Mario Osborne shy of a first down.

Hansen lateraled to an offensive lineman who scooped the ball up on two bounces and took it into the end zone.

After a brief delay, the play was called a touchdown.

Arkansas State players celebrated wildly, at least one of them throwing his helmet in the air and others running across the field before police directed them away from UL’s sideline.

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Upon further review, it was ruled Hansen’s knee was down prior to the lateral. The TD was erased.

Cajun players then celebrated wildly, some in the direction of the Red Wolves’ sideline.

But two seconds remained, and the sides had to be separated before one last snap by UL’s offense.

ArkansasOnline also reported Anderson said “three-quarters of their team (the Cajuns’) came over and taunted themselves in front of our players.”

“I just called Blake (Anderson),” Hudspeth said when asked at his weekly media gathering, “because he had called me (two years ago) when we had the incident with Mykhael Quave at the end of the game.”

In 2014, a Red Wolves player purportedly dove at offensive-lineman Quave’s knees late in that game. Afterward, the Sun Belt Conference publicly reprimanded nine persons – including Arkansas State players, and UL players and coaches.

“He had called me (in ’14), sort of to apologize,” Hudspeth said Monday. “I just called him (Sunday) and said, ‘Wanted to tell you sorry we stormed the field.’

“They sort of stormed the field first, too. … But I wanted to tell him also, ‘Great job’ of managing his side, because we had gotten both sides back, and just agreed that, ‘Let whoever wants shake hands, but let’s just send ’em on up (to the locker room). Hard-fought game. Very spirited game all day long. Really clean all day long between the whistles, and let’s don’t let it get out of hand.’

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Blake and the job he’s done there,” Hudspeth added, “and all their coaches I’m friends with and I know.”

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But when Hudspeth was told it was reported Anderson had said Hudspeth said he was “embarrassed,” Hudspeth suggested otherwise.

“Not embarrassed,” he said. “I told him I hated we took the field as fast as we did before the game was over, and told him ‘We were excited to win the football game. It had been a long, tough season.’

“But not embarrassed. Just disappointed we didn’t get ’em back any sooner.”

UL improved to 5-6 with the win.

Now, a victory Saturday in its regular-season finale at UL Monroe will get the Cajuns to a bowl game for the fifth time in six years.

“Our guys, it was just a complete release of energy that had been bottled up in these guys and they finally won a big-time game … ” Hudspeth said.

“So when it finally came up that the Cajuns win at home, there was just a release of energy, myself included, with everything.”

“When it’s the last play of the game, normally you leave the sideline anyway,” Hudspeth added. “We just left it a little too fast, stayed out there a little too long. But it was a great win for our kids.”

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Players from both sides were trash-talking late in the game, and afterward.

Hudspeth was just happy nothing serious developed.

“There was nothing bad that happened out there,” he said. “We just ran out on the field, and ran out there a little too quick before the game was officially over.”

“ ‘It shouldn’t have happened and you guys handled yourselves with class and (I) wanted to tell you how much we apologize and how much I really appreciate it,’ ” Anderson said Hudspeth told him, the website reported.

Anderson, meanwhile, seemed to have mixed emotions Monday about Arkansas State’s last offensive play.

“I’ve got a bias,” he said during a Sun Belt conference call. “I can obviously see Justice’s (Hansen’s) knee is going down, and his body is gonna touch the turf.

“My only question – it doesn’t matter anymore; I mean, it’s over, but, to me – (is) is it conclusive that the ball had not started the process of coming out of his hand? If you consider it like a fumble, if you consider it like a loose ball, is it absolutely, 100 percent conclusive – because it was called a touchdown on the field.

“It’s obvious to me that, yeah, his body goes down,” Anderson added. “But I can’t tell you – I’ve looked back a million times – I can’t tell you exactly when the ball starts to come out of his hand.”

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson tweeted immediately after Saturday’s game that he had “Just confirmed with Steve Shaw,” the SBC’s director of officiating, that it was a “Correct call on the knee down on backward pass.”

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