The offensive explosion most expected didn't disappoint, as Louisiana-Lafayette and East Carolina lit up the scoreboard in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Ragin' Cajuns and Pirates combined for 45 points in the second quarter and spent much of the game in plus territory. East Carolina erased a 21-point first-half deficit, but couldn't convert enough drives into touchdowns as Louisiana-Lafayette celebrated a New Orleans Bowl championship for the second consecutive year.
Let's take a quick look at what happened in the Big Easy ...
It was over when: A fourth-down rollout pass from East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden to wide receiver Andrew Bodenheimer was broken up by Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Melvin White near the sideline with 2:32 left. Ragin' Cajuns star kicker Brett Baer, who had booted the game-wining field goal in last year's New Orleans Bowl, secured another by converting a 39-yard field goal try with 10 seconds left. After beginning the game with three consecutive three-and-outs, East Carolina had moved the ball well throughout the second half until the decisive drive.
Game ball goes to: Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway. The sophomore was the most dynamic player on the field at the dome despite playing through an apparent right shoulder injury. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and he added 108 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Broadway set the team's single-season total offense record on a third-quarter run, and finished with 416 yards on the day. Cajuns sophomore running back Alonzo Harris also deserves a shoutout after going for 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Stat of the game: Both teams entered the game ranked in the top five nationally in red zone offense -- Louisiana-Lafayette tied for second (94 percent), East Carolina tied for fifth (92 percent) -- and they didn't disappoint. The Ragin' Cajuns and Pirates combined to go 10-for-10 on red zone scores, with eight touchdowns and two field goals.
Unsung hero: Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Jemarious Moten. The first-team All-Sun Belt selection stepped up in his final collegiate game. After a Broadway interception off a deflection set up East Carolina in Cajuns territory early in the fourth quarter, Moten responded with an interception of Carden near the 10-yard line. He also had a third-down pass breakup midway through the fourth. Although he should have had more than one interception -- and a possible pick-six off a trick play -- he certainly was a factor for the Louisiana-Lafayette defense.
What it means: The Louisiana-Lafayette program has arrived under coach Mark Hudspeth, recording consecutive nine-win seasons and consecutive bowl victories. Before last year's New Orleans Bowl, the Cajuns hadn't played in the postseason since the 1970 season (in the Grantland Rice Bowl). Broadway emerged as a star this fall and should give Louisiana-Lafayette an excellent chance to compete for a Sun Belt title in 2013. East Carolina also has a promising young quarterback in Carden, but the Pirates need to rediscover their postseason mojo after dropping their fourth straight bowl game.