The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns defeated the East Carolina Pirates 43-34 on Saturday in a wildly-entertaining 12th edition of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in front of a record crowd.
Ragin’ Cajuns fans packed the Superdome for ULL’s second consecutive New Orleans Bowl championship. The official attendance for Saturday’s game was 48,828, beating last year’s record-setting crowd by more than 6,000 fans.
“We talked about as a team that we were treating this as a home game” said ULL Head Coach Mark Hudspeth after the game. “We’re 11-1 now in home football games, and we’re proud of that.”
ULL quarterback Terrance Broadway earned the game’s most valuable player award. He completed 21 of his 32 passes for 316 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 108 yards and another touchdown run.
ULL running back Alonzo Harris broke the century mark on the ground, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns, the most exciting of which was a 68 yard sprint down the far sideline for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“I feel like I took a little bit of pressure off of [the Louisiana offense] by making the offense a little more balanced,” said Harris. “Helping them out on the zone reads, getting up in there and drawing the defender away from them, and in the passing game giving them an option if the receiver was not open.”
ULL was dominant on both offense and defense early on, and for a while the Cajuns appeared to have the game in hand.
Lafayette jumped out to a 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but mistakes allowed ECU to find their rhythm and fight their way back into the game, including scoring two touchdowns in just 13 seconds thanks to a fumbled kickoff return by ULL return specialist Darryl Surgent.
“I didn’t want to be behind, but knowing our guys and what they’ve gone through, I knew we would fight back,” said East Carolina Head Coach Ruffin McNeill after the game. “We just needed to relax. We talked about execution. That was the biggest thing. The second thing we told them at half was just to make the routine plays.”
The game remained close the rest of the way as ULL and ECU traded touchdowns, field goals and even turnovers in the second half.
ULL placekicker Brett Baer sealed the win for the Cajuns with three field goals, including two in the last four minutes of the football game.
ECU quarterback Shane Carden passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw one interception, and his receivers were plagued by dropped balls throughout the game.
Several New Orleans Bowl records came crashing down today. ULL and ECU combined to score 77 points, and ULL rushed for 267 yards. Both figures are new highs for the New Orleans Bowl.
The two teams combined for 45 points in the second quarter, which ties an NCAA record for the most points scored in any single quarter of a bowl game.
“I am very proud of this football team, not just for the way they played tonight but the way they prepared for this game,” said Hudspeth. “These guys just continue to blow me away with how they do the right things, how they take the hard work serious, how they prepare, watch film, lift weights and do everything we ask. I couldn’t be more proud to see the look in their eyes and on their faces after we won that game, especially a bowl game tonight in the Superdome.”
Story by Jacob Mayer, with editing and additional reporting by Jason Saul.
Full Audio of the ULL Postgame Press Conference