MONROE — UL-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway thought often about last year’s game against ULM, the game that very nearly ended his junior season.
Oddly enough, his thoughts didn’t shift back to the play that broke his arm. Nor did he think much about that play the multitudes of other times he braced for impact by putting his hands out in front of him.
What did Broadway think about leading up to this game? The feeling after he broke his arm. That empty feeling walking up the tunnel before the game was over, his cleats making a much lonelier clacking sound than he was used to.
“Just re-living the feeling that I felt walking up the tunnel when it first happened,” Broadway said. “Just knowing that my arm was broken.”
Saturday’s game was personal for Broadway. He came to Monroe with vengeance on his mind after the Warhawks came into Cajun Field and danced off it with a 31-28 win, ending an eight-game win streak and effectively ending their shot at a 10-win season.
Yes, they danced off Cajun Field. The Cajuns will be quick to remind you that the Warhawks didn’t run off it, didn’t walk off it arm-in-arm or skip off it. They made sure to enjoy their win in Lafayette.
Yes, this game was personal for Broadway’s teammates, too. Coach Mark Hudspeth made sure of that.
Hudspeth is always — always — looking for ways to motivate his players. Before the game, he showed his players Orlando Thomas’ career highlight reel — great plays from the man they honored with special helmet decals and a one-game jersey unretirement after he died at 42 a little less than a week ago.
“The way he played the game with so much passion and heart, so physical, it was pretty neat,” Hudspeth said. “Glad we could win on the night we tried to honor him.”
But his pièce de résistance in the days leading up to the game wasn’t the Orlando Thomas tape. It was footage Warhawks players celebrating, dancing, having a grand ol’ time on the Cajuns’ home turf.
Where he even got that tape is beyond me. It doesn’t matter where he got it, though. It triggered something in the Cajuns players.
“Once they showed us pregame, it kind of got personal,” said senior linebacker Jake Molbert, who had two sacks and two forced fumbles in a spirited performance. “A team disrespecting your field.”
Did it nudge the team toward the type of performance it delivered Saturday?
Hudspeth wasn’t so sure after the game. He made his aw shucks politically correct statement that sure maybe the kids took it a little personal, but they were more concerned about winning the next game, yadda, yadda, yadda.
That’s fine, coach. You, me and the rest of the people listening know that really spirited message is for the team’s ears alone. Plus, judging by the players’ reaction, it certainly didn’t hurt.
“Yeah,” said a laughing Molbert, “it helped.”
So the Cajuns came out and hammered the Warhawks early, jumping out to a 17-7 lead by running for more than 200 physical, tough, vengeful yards. They’d need that lead late, as the Warhawks scored 14 points in the last seven minutes.
They held on 34-27. They sang with the band after the game. They walked off the field, no dance moves needed.
“They danced on our field last year after they upset us,” Broadway said. “We were on a winning streak then. We watched it over and over again for the past year since it happened. It was personal as a team.”