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Louisiana-Lafayette rages at New Orleans Bowl

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS -- The University of Louisiana-Lafayette ended a 41-year bowl drought in 2011 when it went to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

The Ragin' Cajuns might be on their way to making postseason trips routine as they returned to the New Orleans Bowl and defeated East Carolina, 43-34, Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

ULL won its fourth straight to finish 9-4. The Pirates, who had won their last three, finished 8-5.

"I'm very proud of back-to-back bowl championships and back-to-back nine-win seasons," Cajuns second-year coach Mark Hudspeth said. "We're looking to show some consistency in the program and hopefully that solidifies."

ULL defeated San Diego State 32-30 in last year's New Orleans Bowl.

Alonzo Harris and Terrance Broadway each rushed for more than 100 yards and they accounted for four touchdowns as ULL never trailed.

Harris carried 21 times for 120 yards and scored on runs of 6 and 68 yards and Broadway rushed 15 times for 108 yards and scored on a 12-yard run. Broadway, voted the game's Most Valuable Player, also completed 21-of-32 passes for 316 yards and threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Javone Lawson. He was intercepted once.

"He's a dual threat," ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said of Broadway. "Watching him on film, he did a good job against all of their opponents. He understands their offense. He did a good job running the football and then he made the throws he needed to make on the bootleg and the play-action."

ECU trailed by 21 points in the second quarter, but got within 31-21 at halftime and pulled even in the third quarter.

Warren Harvey's 45-yard field goal and Reggie Bullock's 13-yard touchdown run tied the score 31-31 with 5:57 left in the third. Bullock had 104 yards on 17 carries.

"Nothing fazes our team, whether we're up by 20 or down a couple points," Broadway said. "Everybody on the team responds well to adversity. When they came back and made a game of it we were still upbeat."

The Cajuns answered with a 76-yard drive that ended with Broadway's touchdown pass to Lawson. Terry Williams blocked Brett Baer's extra point, leaving ULL with a 37-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Harvey's 26-yard field goal got the Pirates within 37-34 with 13:36 left in the game. Baer's 25-yard field goal pushed the lead back to six with 3:11 left, and his 39-yarder completed the scoring with 10 seconds left.

ULL grabbed an early 14-0 lead as Broadway ran 12 yards for a touchdown and Harry Peoples ran 10 yards for another early in the second quarter.

After going three-and-out on its first three possessions, ECU drove 77 yards early in the second quarter and Bullock's 5-yard touchdown run cut the deficit in half.

The Cajuns needed barely a minute and half to answer and Harris' 6-yard run made it 21-7.

On its next possession, ULL marched 98 yards and Harris ran the final 68 for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 28-7.

"We had a hard time getting into a rhythm at the beginning of the first half," ECU quarterback Shane Carden said.

But lightning struck for the Pirates in the second quarter, beginning with Carden's 19-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hardy.

On the ensuing kickoff, Darryl Surgent fumbled and Justin Venable recovered for ECU at the Cajuns 16. On the next play, Carden threw a touchdown pass to Danny Webster to make it 28-21. Carden completed 25 of 42 for 278 yards and threw one interception.

After an exchange of punts, ULL drove 47 yards and Baer kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cajuns a 31-21 halftime lead.

Notes: The crowd of 48,828 was the largest in the 12-year history of the New Orleans Bowl. ... The combined 45 second-quarter points tied an NCAA bowl record, matching the total Nebraska and Northwestern combined for in the second quarter of the 2000 Alamo Bowl. ... Harris' 68-yard touchdown run is the longest run in New Orleans Bowl history. ... Baer's 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half tied the New Orleans Bowl record for longest field. Baer's 50-yarder as time expired won last year's game, and Troy's Michael Taylor also hit a 50-yarder in 2010. ... ECU has lost its last four bowl games and six of its last seven. ... The Pirates have scored on each of their last 36 red-zone visits. ... ECU converted 1-of-2 fourth-down attempts, making it 11 of 15 on fourth downs this season. ULL led the nation in fourth-down defense, having stopped 10-of-12 attempts entering the game.
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