Dec 1, 2012 10:07 PM by UL Sports Information
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Terrance Broadway and Alonzo Harris combined for 250 yards rushing and the Cajun defense forced three turnovers as Louisiana improved to 8-4 on the year with a 35-21 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday at FAU Stadium.
The New Orleans Bowl bound Cajuns conclude the regular season in a second place tie in the Sun Belt standings with a 6-2 record. FAU ends the year with a 3-9 mark and 2-6 in Sun Belt play.
"I thought this was a pretty complete game," Louisiana head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "We started a little slow on defense, but once we got going, we put things together. We had a good week of practice and have been playing real well over the last month so this was another good performance.
"Any time that we can go an entire game without a turnover and get three, we have a great chance to win. When we needed a stop, our defense really came through," Hudspeth added.
Despite allowing the Owls 528 yards of total offense, the Cajuns bend but don't break approach worked. UL forced FAU to attempt a pair of long field goals, one of which was blocked, throw two interceptions and lose one fumble. In addition, Louisiana stopped FAU on three fourth down attempts, including on each of the final two possessions of the game.
But it was the Cajun running game that turned the tide, amassing 284 yards on 50 carries with Harris picking up 127 yards and a career-best three touchdowns on 21 carries and Broadway rushing 15 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Broadway completed 13-of-19 passes for 168 yards and a score.
Wilbert led the Owls offensively, completing 25-of-38 passes for 379 yards and two touchdowns while Jonathan Wallace rushed 18 times for 86 yards and a score.
"We tipped the game in our favor in the second quarter with our running game," Hudspeth said. "We got them tired and they couldn't recover. We didn't do anything fancy but run at them and use our strength and quickness and it was effective."
It took the Cajuns just two plays and 74 seconds to open the scoring when Terrance Broadway kept the ball around the right end on a keep and rambled 77 yards for the touchdown to give UL a 7-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived as Florida Atlantic struck back on its first play from scrimmage when Graham Wilbert found William Dukes open down the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7 just 81 seconds into the game.
The game would settle down after that with FAU taking a 14-7 lead with 0:37 left in the quarter on a Jonathan Wallace 11-yard run. The score capped a 13-play, 95-yard drive that lasted 4:51.
The Cajuns battled back, using the ground game to post a pair of touchdowns to give Louisiana a 21-14 lead at the half.
Alonzo Harris evened the game at 14-14 when he bulled his way into the end zone from nine yards out with 6:33 left. The 64-yard drive included Broadway completions of 15 yards to Javone Lawson and 11 yards to Darryl Surgent.
Sean Thomas turned in the first big defensive play of the game, intercepting a Wilbert pass to stop an Owl scoring drive inside the 10. Thomas is the sixth UL player to intercept a pass this season.
The Cajuns took advantage of the break, driving 96 yards in 15 plays to take the lead on a 15-yard pass from Broadway to James Butler with 35 seconds left in the half. A 41-yard run by Harris was a key play on the drive.
After a Rodney Gillis interception gave the Cajuns the ball at the FAU 49, Louisiana used the ground attack to drive the ball into the end zone and take a 28-14 lead with 7:17 left on a two-yard run by Harris, second score of the game. All 49 yards of the nine-play drive came on the ground.
FAU opened the scoring in the fourth quarter when Wilbert found Dukes on a cross pattern for a 42-yard touchdown that brought the Owls to within 28-21 with 13:16 left in the game. It was the ninth catch of the game for Dukes, who finished with 204 yards receiving.
After forcing the Cajuns to punt, FAU got the ball back and was driving. A 31-yard run by Travis Jones gave the Owls the ball in Cajun territory, but a Justin Anderson forced FAU's Damian Fortner to fumble and Cordian Hagans recovered to snuff the drive.
Hagans, who had blocked a field goal attempt in the first half, finished the game with two tackles including 1.5 tackles-for-loss for minus-four yards and a fumble recovery.
The Cajuns took advantage of the miscue. A 45-yard Broadway completion to Jamal Robinson gave UL the ball at the FAU 15. Three plays later, Harris scored his career-best third touchdown of the game on a two-yard run to put Louisiana ahead, 35-21 with 7:06 left.
The defense took over after that, refusing to allow the Owls to even pull to within a touchdown.
After the Owls drove to the UL 20, Jemarlous Moten broke up a fourth-and-four pass with 4:48 to play.
FAU had one more opportunity, getting the ball at midfield following a Brett Baer punt. A holding penalty forced the Owls into a third and long but Trevence Patt broke up a third down pass and pressure by Moten led to a hurried incompletion on fourth down, turning the ball over to the Cajuns.
With the regular season complete, the Cajuns will now have three weeks to prepare for their second consecutive bowl appearance, traveling to New Orleans to face East Carolina on Saturday, Dec. 22 beginning at 11:00 a.m. in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome.