LAFAYETTE — “We’ve got to win out.”
That was the quick answer by Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway to a postgame question about the Cajuns’ chances of winning the Sun Belt Conference title.
Broadway had just amassed 460 yards of total offense at Malone Stadium in ULL’s 40-24 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, helping to alter the configuration of the SBC standings.
It was, obviously, a big victory over ULM, which entered Saturday’s game with a perfect record in conference play. Just how much the Cajuns’ win ultimately figures into their position in the SEC standings at the end of the season, we won’t know until early December.
No matter what happens, ULL running back Alonzo Harris said, things are different now.
“The picture in the conference is definitely going to change,” Harris said. “I think we’re still in the race.”
As this week begins, first place is shared in among ULM (6-3, 4-1), Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State, whose overall and league records are identical.
Broadway said ULL was enjoying first place for several weeks last month before losing consecutive games to North Texas and ASU.
The ULM victory puts the Cajuns’ season in better perspective, Broadway said.
“This gives us a big opportunity, but we have to win (the rest of the conference games),” he said. “At one point we were the top dogs, and we took pride in that. Then we fell, and now we got back up.”
Warhawks coach Todd Berry not only saw his team drop out of first, but probably lose quarterback Kolton Browning for the season.
In its Sunday edition, the Monroe News-Star reported that Browning suffered a broken left foot after he threw a first-quarter incompletion.
Berry said his team cannot afford more conference losses.
“We’re still in (the conference race), but the margin of error is minimal now because of that tie (for first),” Berry said. “Now it’s time to see how we respond.”
For ULL coach Mark Hudspeth, Saturday’s win was as much about team improvement as it was about lifting the Cajuns’ position in the SBC standings.
“Our backs were against the wall in the Sun Belt. This (win) gives us a somewhat outside chance,” Hudspeth said. “For the most part, this win gives us the fifth win of the season and gets us back on track. It was a road win and a big rivalry win.”
Behind the three conference leaders are Western Kentucky (5-3, 3-2) and the Cajuns, who have the same record as the Hilltoppers.
Arkansas State hosts ULM on Thursday in a game that will separate one of the two leaders, while ULL still has conference games remaining with WKU, South Alabama and Florida Atlantic.
Saturday, the Cajuns travel to play the University of Florida, which has not allowed more than 20 points in any game this season.
In examining the ULM game, Hudspeth said he was happy to see Broadway — a sophomore making his fifth ULL start — bounce back after two poor performances.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Hudspeth said. “He’s taken a lot of heat, but Terrance has really accepted the responsibility of being a starting Division I quarterback.
“He’s worked hard and his teammates believe in him. It was good to see (Broadway) come out and put a complete game together.”
For Broadway, it was good to see ULL’s running game reappear. The Cajuns ran 49 times for 234 yards, controlling the game clock for 40 minutes, 35 seconds.
The Cajuns got 87 rushing yards from Broadway, 62 from Harris and 72 yards from Torrey Pierce.
“We hadn’t rushed for over 100 yards the last two weeks, so it was really good to run the football,” Broadway said. “I told (Harris) there’s a reason why he was the freshman of the year in the conference (last season) and having a so-so season. I told him it was time to capitalize and run the ball.”
As for Broadway’s performance, the former Capitol standout said it helped him gain a measure of redemption.
“For the past two weeks, I haven’t been giving the defense a chance with interceptions and turnovers,” he said. “I disappointed the team, and I never want to let them down again.”