After jumping out to a 21-0 lead, Louisiana-Lafayette appeared to be well on its way to its third straight win in the New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin' Canjuns did indeed come away with a 24-21 win, but not without plenty of drama.
The game went back and forth with both teams going on 21-point runs. ULL looked dominant in the early going before Tulane made a run of its own to get back in the game. The scoring settled down in the second half, but there was still plenty of action. Tulane looked down and out before Devin Powell completed a desperation heave to keep the final drive alive.
Tulane was able to move into ULL territory, but a sack late in the drive left the Green Wave with a 48-yard field goal attempt to tie the game in the final seconds. Former Lou Groza Award winner Cairo Santo's attempt just missed right, sealing the game for ULL.
The Ragin' Cajuns got a major boost with the return of starting quarterback Terrance Broadway. Broadway missed time late in the season, including the regular season finale against South Alabama. He was cleared to play against Tulane, however, and made a quick impact.
Broadway led the Ragin' Cajuns to two touchdowns on their first three drives. Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each ran for touchdowns in the first quarter. The ULL defense also got into the scoring act with the help of a very poor throw from Nick Montana. The son of Hall of Famer Joe, Nick was intercepted early in the third quarter, with cornerback Corey Trim taking it 83 yards to the house.
Although it dug itself an early hole, Tulane still had plenty of fight. The Green Wave turned to Powell in place of Montana, and he was able to spark a comeback. He connected on a 42-yard pass on a fourth-and-three to set up Tulane's first touchdown. A Broadway interception on the next possession gave Tulane the ball back. Orleans Darkwa found the end zone a second time not long after, and all of a sudden it was 21-14.
The Tulane defense set up the offense again in the third quarter when Broadway's ill-fated throw-away attempt led to an interception.
Darkwa scored his third touchdown of the game two plays later. The second half continued to be a defensive battle until the Ragin' Cajuns were able to regain the lead early in the third quarter. Powell heaved a pass from his own end zone that was intercepted by Sean Thomas. An added penalty gave the Ragin' Cajuns excellent field position, and ULL added a field goal to go up 24-21.
With Broadway suffering from cramps, the Ragin' Cajuns were forced to put the game in the hands of freshman quarterback Jalen Nixon. The freshman signal caller came through with a key third-down pass to move the chains and help eat the clock.
The game was played in front of 54,728 fans, a New Orleans Bowl record.
Box Score Hero: Darkwa ran for 84 yards and scored three touchdowns. Elijah McGuire led the way for ULL, finishing with six catches for 91 yards.
Rankings Ramifications: None here, as neither team was close to being ranked.
But Did They Cover? Tulane was anywhere from a 1- to 2.5-point favorite at kickoff. Either way, the Green Wave failed to cover.