Dec. 20 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
UL-Lafayette 16, Nevada 3
And You Care Because … UL-Lafayette got all the points it needed in the first quarter to win the New Orleans Bowl for a fourth consecutive year. The Ragin’ Cajuns opened the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Terrance Broadway to C.J. Bates just four minutes in, and relied on the defense the rest of the way. Nevada pulled within 10-3 on a Brent Zuzo field goal in the second quarter, but never got closer than that. The Wolf Pack was shut out over the final 32 minutes, with all of the second-half scoring coming off the foot of Cajun PK Hunter Stover.
What Else? Broadway completed 26-of-31 passes for 227 yards, no interceptions and the one touchdown to Bates.
- Nevada QB Cody Fajardo was held to one of the worst games of his senior season, connecting on only 14-of-29 passes for 124 yards. He led the Pack with 49 yards on the ground, which was also below his usual average.
- The Pack entered the weekend averaging 413 yards per game. But UL-Lafayette held it to just 213 yards and 3.7 yards per play.
- In the second to last play of the game, Cajun DT Christian Ringo registered his 21st career sack to tie a school record set two decades by Jeff Mitchell.
Game Rating: D
1. Another year, another New Orleans Bowl victory for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who’ve successfully turned the Superdome into their December home away from home. But even better than another postseason win to finish 9-4 is the fact that Mark Hudspeth is still on the university payroll. UL-Lafayette just isn’t UL-Lafayette without Hudspeth in charge. And it’s a mild shock that a much larger program, even an SEC program, hasn’t scooped him up by now. Go celebrate this latest bowl win, Cajuns, which caps yet another quality season. Be particularly thankful, though, that unlike so many other Group of Five programs, your team’s success hasn’t left you scrambling for a new coaching staff.
2. E-mail Phil Harrison
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We certainly could have asked for some more excitement to kick off bowl season than what this year’s version of the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl provided. Take nothing away from the win by Louisiana-Lafayette, but in a season full of high scores and offensive explosion, we were left with a game that served as an antithesis of the season, with defense and time of possession ruling the day.
The offense that did exist came from the Ragin’ Cajun’s sideline. Quarterback Terrance Broadway spread the ball around to five different receivers, completing 26 of 31 for a Chinese water torture affair with 227 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, running back Elijah McGuire ran away for most of the 189 yards on the ground with sixteen carries for 99 yards. It was a balanced and methodical win for Louisiana-Lafayette.
And with the Ragin’ Cajuns defense befuddling and confounding the Wolf Pack all day, it was more than enough to win a game that was more dominant than the thirteen point margin would have you believe.
3. Hudspeth will get much of the credit for today’s 16-3 suffocation of Nevada. And deservedly so. But defensive coordinator James Willis and his assistants deserve a hearty pat on the back, and even a raise, for the way their kids performed against the Pack. The Cajuns did this afternoon what no other program has this season, shutting down dual-threat QB Cody Fajardo and keeping Nevada four touchdowns below their 2014 scoring average. Willis thoroughly outcoached Brian Polian and his assistants, but UL-Lafayette also whipped Nevada at the line of scrimmage. With linemen Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton generating a push from the interior, Fajardo never had a chance to set his feet in the pocket or avoid contact shortly after fleeing the pocket. The Cajuns blanked the Pack after halftime, which will be a talking point for the staff right up until spring camp opens.
4. What’s next for Nevada
After turning the corner in 2014, the Wolf Pack should be an even bigger threat to the Mountain West title if they can replace QB Cody Fajardo. Tyler Stewart is bigger and has the potential to be the next great Nevada playmaker behind a good line that started two redshirt freshmen and get back three starters. Don Jackson along with James Butler for a potentially devastating 1-2 rushing punch, and four of the top five pass catchers return, including Jackson.
The defense has work to do in the secondary with three starters gone, but linebackers Brian Lane Jr., Matthew Lyons and Jordan Dobrich should anchor things. There’s no replacing Brock Hekking and what he brings to the defensive front, but Ian Seau, Lenny Jones and Rykeem Yates should form a solid front wall. Both PK Brent Zuzo and P Alex Boy are back.
5. What’s next for Louisiana-Lafayette
The rushing punch that was so devastating will revolve around Elijah McGuire, and it needs to with RB Alonzo Harris and leader, QB Terrance Broadway, gone. Three starters are back up front including the terrific left side of tackle Mykhael Quave and guard Donovan Williams, and they need to be great with a new quarterback taking over. The receiving corps needs more seasoning with Al Riles needing to become more of a No. 1 target and with C.J. Bates playing a bigger role on the outside.
With four of the top five tacklers gone, the defense has major rebuilding to do, especially inside losing tackles Justin Hamilton and Christian Ringo. Corner takes a massive hit, too, with Trevence Pratt and Corey Trim done, but the young safeties should shine and the linebacking corps will be a plus. PK Hunter Stover and P Daniel Cadona are done – Carlos Alvarez will get a shot at both spots.
5 Thoughts On The R&L Carriers New Orleans
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