Dec 22, 2012 5:18 PM by UL
NEW ORLEANS - Jemarlous Moten made two key defensive plays in the fourth quarter and Brett Baer landed a pair of field goals in the waning minutes to help the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns repeat as R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl champions with a 43-34 victory over East Carolina here Saturday afternoon before the bowl's record crowd of 48,828 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Moten's plays helped a Cajuns defense hold off a Pirates rally that began with a special teams miscue late in the second quarter. Both stops came with ECU knocking on the door trailing by just three points both times.
The ground game for Louisiana (9-4), which churned out 267 yards rushing, played a factor down the stretch, helping the squad chew up five minutes of clock after Moten's second defensive stop.
Trailing 37-34 early in the fourth quarter, ECU (8-5) collected an interception of Broadway and was staged on the UL 39 with 12:18 remaining.
Moten returned the favor for the Cajuns, as he picked off ECU's Shane Carden two plays later with 11:41 on the clock to preserve the Louisiana lead.
The Pirates would make a defensive stand, stuffing Alonzo Harris on third-and-one from the UL45 forcing a punt. Moten stepped up once more to protect the three point edge, when he broke up a Carden pass in Cajuns territory on third down on the ensuing possession.
Louisiana's five-minute, rush-heavy responsive drive that took the clock down to 3:11 ended with a 25-yard field goal from Baer for a 40-34 lead.
Melvin White finished off the Cajuns' fourth quarter defensive stand breaking up a Carden pass on fourth-and-five with 2:32 remaining. Before the fourth down play, the Pirates were forced to burn their second timeout of the second stanza.
The Pirates took that final timeout two plays after returning the ball to the Cajuns. A sack and Alonzo Harris rush would wilt the clock to just 10 seconds. Baer booted his third field goal of the contest, stretching the lead to an insurmountable nine points, 43-34.
Terrance Broadway, who completed 21-of-32 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown and had 15 rushes for 108 yards, was named New Orleans Bowl MVP. Broadway's 424 yards of total offense marked the second-most in the game's history, bested only by his teammate Blaine Gautier (492 in 2011 New Orleans Bowl).
Harris rushed for 120 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. He joined Broadway in eclipsing 100 yards on the ground making the duo the first such in New Orleans Bowl history. It was the third time this season the pair rushed over 100 yards together in the same game.
Louisiana became the second team to win back-to-back editions of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, joining Southern Miss who won in 2004 and 2005. The Cajuns win improved the Sun Belt Conference to 7-5 in the bowl game and marked the fourth straight year that the league's representative won the contest.
The Cajuns, who appeared in a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time, notched a 9-4 record for the second straight season, improving to 18-8 in two seasons under the direction of head coach Mark Hudspeth.
The Ragin' Cajuns defense stopped the Pirates on three downs on the game's opening drive, setting the tone for the rest of the quarter. UL would hold the Pirates to two more three-and-outs and 22 total yards in the opening quarter.
Louisiana wasted little time grabbing the lead, marching 73 yards over 12 plays for a touchdown after receiving the ball for the first time in the contest.
A busy second quarter - that featured a combined 45 points - began with Louisiana completing a drive that began with 3:09 left in the first quarter. Harry Peoples rushed over the left end for 10 yards into the ECU end zone to up the Cajuns margin to two scores.
Not until the next possession did the Pirates collect their initial first down of the game - a 45 yard pass from Carden to Jabril Solomon down to the UL 30. Two plays later - and after a roughing the passer call advanced ECU 15 more yards - Reggie Bullock rushed in for the Pirates first tally of the contest.
Louisiana stretched its lead out with scores on its next two touches, moving ahead 28-7 with 7:05 remaining before halftime. Both scoring drives required less than two minutes to hit pay dirt.
Harris generated both tallies on the ground. The second score came on a 68-yard scoring run at 7:05 and it established a New Orleans Bowl record for longest run from scrimmage.
Just when the game appeared to be slipping away, the Pirates answered the two Cajuns scores with a 10 play, 80 yard scoring drive, and then benefitted from a Cajuns special teams miscue to make it a one possession game.
Following a Carden touchdown pass to Justin Hardy at 3:09, Darryl Surgent fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Justin Venable recovered for the Pirates at the UL 16. Seven seconds and one play after the miscue, Danny Webster scampered home 16 yards on pass from Carden to trim the Louisiana lead to 28-21.
UL was able to regain its double-figure lead and did so in the same fashion used to win the 2011 New Orleans Bowl.
After holding the Pirates to a three-and-out and regaining the ball with 37 seconds before halftime, the Cajuns traversed down to the ECU 33 with four seconds remaining where Baer connected on a 50-yard field goal attempt, upping the score to 31-21.
Baer's kick, which tied his New Orleans Bowl record set on the SDSU winner last year for distance, capped of a quarter in which the two teams (UL 24, ECU 21) tied the NCAA bowl game record for points in a quarter (45) set by Nebraska and Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.
After a defensive stop to open the second half, the Pirates returned the deficit back to seven points following a 45-yard field goal from Warren Harvey at 9:46 of the third quarter.
The Cajuns failed to produce a first down on its second touch of the third quarter, returning the ball to the Pirates who capitalized.
After converting on fourth-and-three from the Cajuns 34 using a slant pass from Carden to Bullock, it was Bullock who rushed up the middle from 13 yards out two plays later at 5:57 to pull ECU even for the first time since their opening touch of the contest (0-0).
In just under three minutes the Cajuns responded, reclaiming the lead at 3:07 when Broadway found Javone Lawson over the middle on an acrobatic touchdown grab from 14 yards out.
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