LAFAYETTE — It was a special night, where extraordinary plays created an explosive ending.
Dressed entirely in black for the first time in modern school history, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette celebrated the “Black Out” and Cajun Field on Saturday night with a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes and 43 seconds.
ULL’s two comebacks led by sophomore quarterback Terrrance Broadway erased a 10-point Western Kentucky lead and enabled the Cajuns to become bowl eligible for the fourth time in five seasons with a 31-27 win over the Hilltoppers before 20,314 fans.
Broadway produced 403 total offensive yards for the Cajuns, but his 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamal Robinson with 2:43 left and his touchdown run from the same distance in the final 38 seconds, enabled ULL to improve to 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the Sun Belt.
Although the Cajuns appeared headed for a loss after a WKU touchdown with 6:00 remaining, Broadway said he was confident of a comeback.
“The word believe is on the back of my jersey, and our team believes and never lets go of the rope,” Broadway said.
ULL’s final touchdown drive began after the Cajuns held WKU (6-5, 3-4) on downs and started the final drive of 93 yards with no timeouts and 1:11 remaining in the game.
Broadway completed four passes to wide receiver Harry Peoples on the drive. Then on second down, Broadway dropped back as if to pass and then tucked the ball under and ran through the middle of the WKU defense into the end zone.
The Hilltoppers had a last shot to win the game after WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes drove his team to the Cajuns’ 35.
On the game’s final play, WKU sent several receivers into the end zone, but Jakes’ pass that was apparently caught by the Hilltoppers Jonathan Dowling, who fell down with the ball out of bounds, was ruled incomplete.
“It shouldn’t have come to that final play. I don’t think we tackled well the whole game,” WKU head coach Willie Taggert said.
ULL coach Mark Hudspeth gave his team credit for not quitting even when the Hilltoppers took the 10-point lead late in the game.
“We are finding a way and that’s what we are about. I thought our team hung in there and never quit. I thought this might have been our best offensive game of the year.
“I thought the only time we really stopped ourselves was when we had turnovers,” said Hudspeth.
Broadway and Peoples connected for 13 receptions and 144 yards.
The Cajuns finished with 582 total yards against WKU, which led the SBC in nearly every defensive category at the start of the game.
ULL had trouble stopping Hilltoppers’ running back Antoine Andrews, who gained 238 yards on 37 carries.
In the second half the teams traded leads nearly throughout the final two periods.
WKU took a 13-10 lead with 7:19 left in the third period after a second field goal by place-kicker Garrett Schwettman.
ULL responded with an 81-yard touchdown drive when running back Torrey Pierce carried 15 yards into the end zone with 2:51 remaining.
Cajuns’ place-kicker Brett Baer recovered his own onside kick at the ULL 46, but the Cajuns squandered the chance to extend the lead when tight end Jason Thompson fumbled a reception at the WKU 28 with 2:36 left.
In the fourth period, Andrews scored on a 17-yard run with 14:19 left to give the Hilltopers a 20-17 lead. Andrews scored again to give WKU the 27-17 advantage before the Cajuns began their comeback.
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams used four of the last five second period possessions to each score a touchdown and a field goal.
WKU initiated the scoring with a touchdown (67 yards, seven plays) with 10:16 remaining. Jakes completed a pair of passes to Willie McNeil and Jack Doyle for a combined 43 yards. Those completions came after a first down 22-yard run by Keshawn Simpson. The touchdown came on Simpson’s 1-yard run.
The Cajuns tied the score on the next possession with a five-play, 84-yard touchdown drive.
Four of the plays gained over 15 yards, with Broadway completing passes to Surgent (22) and Peoples (12). Harris broke a 20-yard run before running back Torrey Pierce ran 18 yards for the touchdown (8:18).
Andrews returned the kickoff 55 yards to set up a career-long 42 yard field goal by Garrett Schwettman that gave WKU a 10-7 lead (6:08).
ULL tied the game on Baer’s 23-yard field goal on the final play of the half. On that drive which started at the ULL 29, Broadway completed three passes to Peoples for gains of 29 yards.