Ragin’ Cajuns Make History With Fourth New Orleans Bowl Win (With Photos)
Terrance Broadway Jr. didn't play in the 2014 New Orleans Bowl, but he will remember the Ragin' Cajuns' 16-3 victory over Nevada for the rest of his life.
Held in the arms of his father, T.J. looked down upon a sea of vermilion and white that was celebrating in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the fourth straight year. His father cradled him in one arm and the New Orleans Bowl MVP trophy in the other, soaking in the atmosphere for the very last time.
Broadway, like his fellow 20 seniors, suited up as a Ragin' Cajun for the final time and ended his journey where it belonged, in New Orleans. The most successful senior class in Louisiana Ragin' Cajun school history got to finish their careers in the same place where they celebrated the program's first bowl victory in decades, alongside the fans and coaches that stood by them the whole way.
Head Coach Mark Hudspeth was raspy from all the action after the game, but his emotion still rang clear when he addressed the fans while holding the New Orleans Bowl trophy.
"We've got a hard working group of players and coaches," Hudspeth said. "We've got the best fans, cheerleaders, band, faculty, community...We know how to paint the Quarter red, now let's go do it!"
It's hard to believe the likes of Terrance Broadway, Alonzo Harris, Juice Hamilton, Christian Ringo, Terry Johnson, Daniel Quave and countless other contributors on the squad won't suit up in the vermilion and white again. Today was their final performance though, and they left the fans wishing for an encore.
Terrance Broadway completed his first 14 pass attempts to start the game, and finished with 227 yards passing with a touchdown and no interceptions, completing 26 of his 31 attempts. He set the tone with the first drive of the game, capping it off with the game's only touchdown to CJ Bates. Nevada's version of the Boz, Brock Hekking, even hobbled Broadway before halftime with a hit that left the QB with a sprained ankle, but the New Orleans Bowl MVP soldiered on with resolve to deliver the fourth straight bowl win to his team and fan base.
The scoreboard might have read 16-3 at the end of the game, but don't dare say the win was ugly. To the players and coaches on the field, it was an absolute thing of beauty.
The true MVP was the Cajun defense. No team held Nevada under 20 points this season, until they faced the Cajuns. Cody Fajardo and the Wolfpack offense couldn't muster a single touchdown and were held to a meager 216 total yards on the day. Corey Trim stepped up with two deflections on fourth down plays, the defensive line aggravated Fajardo all day, and the Cajuns registered possibly their best performance ever under Coach Hudspeth on that side of the ball.
Nevada's offense wasn't just stymied. It was suffocated. It seemed like every time Fajardo had an open receiver, he either missed or was met with this image:
Hudspeth will look to players like Tracy Walker (above) to hold the rope after this senior class is removed from the tug-of-war, but the legacy and work ethic ushered in by this group of men was on perfect display in their final performance.
A squad that prided itself on discipline and hard work only committed one penalty and dominated time of possession, while getting critical contributions on special teams. All things that make Hud smile.
The icing on the defensive cake came on the second to last play of the game, when Christian Ringo dragged down Fajardo to become UL's single-season and career sacks record holder. His coach couldn't have been more proud.
"He's sort of been the work ethic guy on our team," Hudspeth made a point of saying during his brief postgame chat.
The Cajuns outrushed the Wolfpack 184 to 92, and they held Nevada to only 4-15 on third down and came up with two crucial fourth down stops. All the numbers in the world could support how UL stepped up to the plate and delivered their fourth straight New Orleans Bowl, but the minor details are much better.
Details like Hunter Stover shaking his head in displeasure after missing his final field goal, despite the fact the win was well in hand and he made his prior two attempts, show the character of this team. Dominique Tovell left the game with a concussion after taking a hit from his own man, but he was back on the sidelines as soon as possible to cheer on his fellow teammates and to ultimately celebrate their victory. Tim Rebowe is the new Head Coach at Nichols State, but he prepared all the way up until the bowl game as a proud Ragin' Cajun. Hundreds of small moments like this combined to create the success, culture and brotherhood that goes by the name: "Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns."
When the clock hit 0:00, it marked the first time in NCAA history a team won the same bowl game four years in a row. NCAA history. Anytime you can say that, it's a good sign for your program. Records were probably far from the minds of the players though.
Players like Terrance Broadway will look back at their time as a Ragin' Cajun and remember the four successive bowl wins, the nine-win seasons, the national recognition and confetti in New Orleans. They will have shiny rings to commemorate their success and a few shiny pieces of metal in the trophy case in the UL Athletic Center. Fans will see them on the streets and greet them with a smile and a "thank you." Those are all small things compared to the bond they shared and will feel for the rest of their lives.
Being a part of history is hard to grasp, especially when you're in the midst of breaking the ground you stand upon. Years down the road, Terrance Broadway and his teammates will look back at the "good old days," but right now the only thing on his mind is making sure he holds onto his MVP trophy, and his son.
The folks in vermilion and white filed out of the Superdome and into the Crescent City to paint the Quarter red, but for those of you that just want to reminisce: they can clean up the confetti in the Dome, but they can never erase these memories.