Stover's field goal lifts Cajuns past Tulane
NEW ORLEANS – Two years ago, a made last-second field goal gave Louisiana its first bowl victory since 1944. Two years, and a pair of bowl victories later, a missed field goal in the final seconds would give the Cajuns their third straight postseason victory.
Hunter Stover, a former Notre Dame of Acadia Parish standout, kicked a 27-yard field goal – the first of his collegiate career – with 9:56 remaining and the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns earned its third straight bowl victory when Tulane's Cairo Santos missed a potential tying 48-yard field goal in a 24-21 win over the Green Wave before an R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl-record crowd of 54,728 Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The dramatic victory in its postseason home away from home helped Louisiana (9-4) claim its third consecutive nine-win season while becoming the first school in New Orleans Bowl history to win three consecutive games.
Stover, who served as the Cajuns primary kickoff specialist before assuming all kicking duties against South Alabama, helped Louisiana stave off a furious comeback by Tulane (7-6) after Sean Thomas picked off his second pass of the game at the Tulane 28. The junior broke up a 21-21 contest after Terrance Broadway was injured on a three-yard scramble on third-and-10 to the Tulane 10.
Tulane, playing in its final game after 38 years in the iconic downtown building, had one final chance to send the game to overtime after a Daniel Cadona punt was downed at the Tulane 5 with 1:35 remaining. Devin Powell connected with Justyn Shackleford on a 34-yard pass on third-and-10 to the Tulane 39 before a 27-yard pass to Ryan Grant pushed the ball to the Cajuns 34.
Powell, who completed 10 of 21 passes for 223 yards, found Kendrick Banks on a nine-yard catch to the Cajuns 25 before Chris Hill made a key defensive stop for Louisiana with a five-yard sack forcing Tulane to call its final timeout with 13 seconds left.
The Green Wave was forced to bring in Santos, the school's all-time leader in field goal percentage (.792) and 2012 Lou Groza winner, to attempt a potential game-tying field goal. After Louisiana called its final timeout, Santos pushed his attempt left of the upright, allowing the Cajuns to run out the clock.
After gaining 568 and 591 yards in victories over San Diego State (2011) and East Carolina (2012), Louisiana finished with 325 yards of total offense, including 168 on the ground. The Cajun defense picked off three Tulane passes with Thomas tying a bowl-record with two interceptions and Corey Trim returning an interception 82 yards to set a bowl record.
Terrance Broadway completed 12 of 19 passes for 143 yards while Elijah McGuire rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries while grabbing seven passes for 94. Alonzo Harris added 74 yards on the ground.