NEW ORLEANS — The quest for that elusive championship ring won’t haunt Terrance Broadway any longer.
Broadway achieved that goal Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when he was named MVP after he led Louisiana-Lafayette to a 43-34 victory against East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl.
The sophomore, a former Capitol High standout, threw for 316 yards and ran for 108 more as the Cajuns won this game for a second straight year, this time in front of a bowl-record 48,828 fans.
Broadway, who became the starter during the season after an injury to Blaine Gautier, said his focus was securing the win, which guaranteed ULL a second straight 9-4 season. Then there was the need to satisfy the emptiness he often felt as he glanced at his ring finger.
“My first goal was to get this team to a big win and to get that monkey off my back,” he said. “I’ve never had a ring in my career in high school or in a bowl game.”
Broadway’s effort was punctuated by senior kicker Brett Baer, who provided three field goals, including a 50-yarder to end the first half. That kick replicated the distance of and cleared the same goalposts as the final-play kick he made last season that gave the Cajuns a 32-30 New Orleans Bowl win over San Diego State in ULL’s first postseason appearance in 40 seasons.
Broadway’s MVP selection was the second straight for a ULL quarterback. Gautier won the award last year after leading the Cajuns’ comeback.
On Saturday, Broadway was the catalyst of the quick-starting ULL offense, which scored on four of its first six possessions to grab a 28-7 lead with seven minutes left in the second quarter. ECU (8-5), aided by several ULL penalties and a fumble recovery on a kickoff, scored twice in a 13-second span to cut the Cajuns’ lead to 28-21 with 2:56 left in the quarter. Baer’s first field goal restored the Cajuns’ lead to 31-21 at halftime.
ULL coach Mark Hudspeth said it was his team’s goal to attack early with the running game.
“We made some big plays, and (offensive coordinator) Jay Johnson had a great plan,” he said. “We got the ball to our playmakers. Terrance was on fire and played really well. I thought we could run the football right at them and with (Broadway) on the zone read plays.”
At halftime, the Cajuns had 171 rushing yards, with sophomore running back Alonzo Harris gaining 97 and Broadway running for 45.
Early in the second half, ECU erased ULL’s lead on a 45-yard Warren Harvey field goal followed by a seven-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that ended on Reggie Bullock’s 13-yard run with 5:57 left in the third quarter. Bullock was a major factor for the Pirates, finishing with 104 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought (East Carolina) made a couple of plays and caught us in the right reads,” Hudspeth said. “I’ll have to go back to the film, but I am also sure they made some adjustments, and that allowed them to battle back and get right back into the game. “At the same time, I have to give credit to my team. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are up by 20 or down by 20; we always seem to make the plays.”
ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said his team needed to settle down.
“For us, it was just about coming back and making the routine plays,” he said. “(ULL) did a lot of what we thought, and they did a good job of changing their (defensive coverages) throughout. It was just about us not executing the routine plays.”
Broadway said what needed to be done offensively became apparent earlier in the week after he read some articles quoting ECU defensive players.
“They said they were going to key in on me,” he said. “So I thought if they were going to do that, it left the outside receivers open.”
Broadway’s main targets were sophomore receiver Jamal Robinson (six catches for 116 yards) and senior Javone Lawson (four for 71 yards and a touchdown).
ULL traveled 73 yards in 12 plays on its opening drive in 4:59. Broadway completed passes to Harry Peoples (12 yards), Robinson (15) and tight end Ian Thompson (15) and ended the drive himself when he ran for a 12-yard touchdown. Two possessions later, the Cajuns made it 14-0 when Peoples scored from 10 yards in the second quarter.
Bullock’s 5-yard run ended ECU’s five-play, 77-yard drive with 12:48 left in the second quarter to reduce ULL’s lead to a touchdown. Harris’ 6-yard run gave the Cajuns a 14-point lead again, and he added another less than four minutes later, bolting trough the ECU secondary from 68 yards to make it 28-7.
ECU drove 80 yards and scored on a 19-yard pass from Shane Carden to receiver Justin Hardy, then the Pirates scored again after Justin Venable recovered the subsequent kickoff fumbled by ULL’s Darryl Sergent. That TD took one play and seven seconds as Carden threw a 16-yarder to Danny Webster.
ECU continued riding that momentum early in the third quarter with consecutive touchdown drives of 52 and 60 yards to tie the score at 31. ULL responded with a 76-yard march that ended when Broadway passed 14 yards for a touchdown to Lawson. Baer’s extra-point attempt was blocked, giving the Cajuns a 37-31 lead with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
Harvey’s 26-yard field goal cut ULL’s lead to 37-34, but Baer provided field goals of 25 and 39 yards in the final 3:11 to seal the victory.