Proving that smaller bowls can provide some of the best entertainment, Louisiana-Lafayette, buoyed by a nice crowd at the Superdome, held on for an exciting 43-34 win against East Carolina.
Although it wasn't like last year's New Orleans Bowl, with a dramatic last-second field goal for ULL to beat San Diego State, it wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Louisiana-Lafayette looked like it was going to make it a dull contest when it went ahead 28-7 in the first half. Then East Carolina's Justin Hardy made a tremendous touchdown catch, the Cajuns fumbled the next kickoff and East Carolina scored again. The Pirates' two touchdowns in 15 seconds turned the New Orleans Bowl into a really fun game. According to ESPN, the 45 combined points in the second quarter tied a record for most points in one quarter of a bowl game.
There was controversy in the second half. Javone Lawson made a juggling catch in the end zone for Louisiana-Lafayette, but replays showed he probably lost control of the ball and it hit the ground before it popped up and he secured it. The game was oddly not stopped for a lengthy review. The game wasn't really over until the Cajuns, leading by six, held on a fourth down with 2:32 left. They added a field goal with 10 seconds left to seal the win.
It's remarkable what Louisiana-Lafayette has done the past two seasons, considering the lack of success over the program's history. Before last season, the only bowl win was in the 1944 Oil Bowl, when the Cajuns beat Arkansas A&M (now Arkansas-Monticello). The only other bowl appearance was a loss in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl.
And now Louisiana-Lafayette has two bowl wins in the last two seasons. That's a pretty significant achievement. Perhaps we'll see them again in the New Orleans Bowl next year. The Cajuns and their fans don't seem to mind it.
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