Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Instant Analysis: UL-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21

By Sam Khan Jr.

In a thriller filled with momentum swings, Louisiana-Lafayette outlasted Tulane 24-21 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

It was over when: Tulane kicker Cairo Santos' 48-yard field goal attempt missed wide left with 9 seconds to play. That was the Green Wave's chance to send the game to overtime, but the Ragin' Cajuns survived the furious Tulane rally.

Game ball goes to: Ragin' Cajuns freshman running back Elijah McGuire started the scoring off with a 27-yard first-quarter touchdown run and finished with 139 total yards (45 rushing, 94 receiving on seven catches).

Stat of the game: Louisiana-Lafayette held Tulane to a 25 percent conversion rate on third downs (3-of-12). Though Tulane had more offensive yards (388-325), the Ragin' Cajuns were able to get several key stops early in the game as they built their lead, and late in the game as they tried to keep Tulane from taking a lead. Tulane punted seven times and had three turnovers.

Second-guessing: Tulane had to burn its final timeout after Devin Powell was sacked with under a minute to go and did so with 13 seconds left, with the Green Wave facing third-and-6 from the Ragin' Cajuns' 31. Instead of trying for a first down or a quick sideline pass to gain yardage, the Green Wave elected the long field goal attempt, which missed. They might have been better served giving it one more try to gain yardage and get a closer look for Santos' kick.

What it means: The Ragin' Cajuns looked like they were going to run away with this game early after taking a 21-0 lead, so credit the Green Wave for hanging tough and coming back to make it a contest all the way to the final seconds. But it's another feather in the cap for the Cajuns and coach Mark Hudspeth. He has this program moving in the right direction, having won 27 games in his three seasons as head coach, which have each finished 9-4. Louisiana-Lafayette was 3-9 the season prior to his arrival. And despite the loss, you can say similar things for second-year Tulane coach Curtis Johnson, who led the Green Wave (7-6) to a winning season and a bowl game for the first time since 2002. Things are looking up for both programs.

To watch the trophy presentation of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, click here.