Warhawks Spoil Cajuns’ Celebration, 31-28
Shortly after play began Saturday at Cajun Field, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns clinched at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference Championship.
After Saturday's game, the Cajuns accepted a bid to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the third straight season.
But, the Cajuns were in no mood to celebrate.
UL Monroe came back from a 14-0 deficit and intercepted Terrance Broadway three times as the Warhawks dominated the second half of play and defeated Louisiana 31-28 to snap the Cajuns' eight game winning streak before 25,309 fans.
With the win, ULM (6-6) became bowl eligible for the second straight year.
It was a night of redemption for Warhawks' quarterback Kolton Browning, who had set numerous school and Sun Belt Conference records, but had never beaten the Cajuns, who had won five straight in the series.
But Browning led the second half comeback, throwing for 247 yards and two touchdowns and rushing seven times for 36 yards to help ULM hand the Cajuns only their second home loss under Mark Hudspeth.
Cajuns' quarterback Terrance Broadway was the victim of the three interceptions, two of which came in the end zone as the Cajuns were driving to scores. The third led to a Warhawks field goal which proved to be the difference in the game. Broadway had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent wrist injury and did not return. He was seen with his arm in a sling and a cast late in the game.
The game started well for the Cajuns as they took the opening kickoff and marched 68 yards in nine plays for the games first score. Broadway hit tight end Ian Thompson for 21 yards on the game's first play and later hit senior Devin Figaro for 21 yards in the drive. Broadway did the honors himself from two yards out and the Cajuns had an early 7-0 lead.
After three running plays netted only two yards, the Cajuns got a 16 yard punt return from Daryl Surgent to put the Cajuns in business at the ULM 35. Elijah McGuire's 22 yard run was the big play in the five play drive, which culminated with his own three yard run to improve the Cajuns' lead to 14-0 with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
But Browning led the Warhawks back, hitting Je'Ron Hamm for 35 yards to the UL 39 and then threw to Rashon Caesar for eleven yards later in the drive for a first down at the CAjuns' 24 yard line. The Cajuns stuffed two running plays for minus five yards, but Browning hit Ajalen Holley for a 29 yard touchdown pass to get the Warhawks on the board.
The Cajuns drove 38 yards on their next possession, but the drive stalled and ULM took over on its own 14. Sophomore quarterback Brayle Brown came in for the Warhawks' next series and three plays later the Warhawks were in the end zone as DeVonte McNeal got past the Cajuns' secondary for a 78 yard run which tied the score at 14 with 10:01 left until halftime.
Surgent again sparked the Cajuns in the return game, taking the ensuing kickoff and returning it to midfield. Broadway ran twice for eleven yards and then hit Jamal Robinson for eighteen more to the ULM 21. Three plays later Broadway hit Surgent for a 24 yard touchdown pass, the 18th of the season for the junior quarterback to put the Cajuns back in front 21-14 with 6:57 left.
The Cajuns had another chance just before halftime after pinning the Warhawks deep in their own territory and taking over at the ULM 42 following a punt. Broadway hit three straight completions to the 23, but his next pass hit off the hands of Robinson and was intercepted by Lenzy Pipkins in the end zone as the first half ended.
ULM inserted both quarterbacks at the same time after the second half kickoff and drove 86 yards in eleven plays. A pass from Brown to Rashan Ceaser for 25 yards to midfield on the second play after the kickoff got the Warhawks moving, and Browning later gained 22 yards on the ground to the UL 6. After a bad snap moved the ball back to the 16, Browning hit Ceaser for the touchdown. Justin Manton's point after hit the upright and the Cajuns still led, 21-20.
The Cajuns turned to McGuire on the next drive and the freshman responded with runs of 20 and 28 yards to put the ball at the ULM nine yard line. Two plays gained three yards and on third down from the six yard line, Broadway threw his second interception as Justin Backus picked off the ball in the end zone to end the threat.
ULM then drove 80 yards for the go ahead score, highlighted by Manton's 14 yard gain on a fake punt on fourth and four from the ULM 26. A Browning run of 16 yards and a pass to Ceaser for 15 more highlighted the drive to the UL 22. And three plays later, Centarius Donald scored from four yards out to give ULM the lead for good. Browning hit Holley for the two point conversion to put ULM ahead 28-21.
Broadway then threw his third interception of the game as Hunter Kissinger picked off a tipped ball at the ULM 40. Two Browning completions to Ceaser of 19 and 24 yards moved the ball to the Cajuns 17 as the third quarter ended. ULM got as far as the Cajuns' eight yard line before Manton booted a 28 yard field goal to increase the lead to 31-21.
The Cajuns moved the football from their 37 to the ULM 31, but Broadway went to the turf after throwing an incomplete pass and came up holding his right wrist. The Cajuns' Stephen Brauchle was called on for a 48 yard field goal, but the kick hit the right upright.
Brooks Haack took over for the Cajuns on the next possession and the Cajuns moved the football from their own 14 to the ULM 29. But a bad snap lost ten yards and the Cajuns couldn't recover, turning the ball over on downs.
The Cajuns got it back one last time and Haack moved the Cajuns 80 yards in eight plays, throwing his first career touchdown pass to Jamal Robinson, covering 25 yards to get the Cajuns within three, 31-28 with just 53 seconds remaining. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Warhawks and ULM ran out the clock for the win.
After completing just four of six passes in the first half, Browning hit on 14-22 in the second half, and added 44 yards rushing after being sacked twice in the first half. Ceaser was the big receiver for ULM, catching six balls for 110 yards and a touchdown.
McGuire led all ball carriers with 119 yards rushing on 14 carries. Robinson caught five passes for 98 yards and a touchdown while James Butler grabbed five for 78 yards. Haack completed 10-14 for 126 yards and a touchdown.
The Cajuns (8-3) will try to win the outright Sun Belt title next Saturday when they travel to Mobile for the first time to meet South Alabama. Kickoff is set for 7:00 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.