(UL ATHLETICS) – Behind a record-setting performance by quarterback Levi Lewis and timely defensive stops, Louisiana earned its first victory in a bowl game since the 2014 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl when it defeated Miami (Ohio), 27-17, in the LendingTree Bowl on Monday night.
Louisiana (11-3, 7-1 SBC) wrapped up its historic 2019 season with 11 wins, a Sun Belt West Division title, numerous school records broken and the team’s first win in a bowl game outside of the state of Louisiana since it defeated Arkansas A&M, 24-7, in the 1944 Oil Bowl in Houston.
Lewis posted another stellar performance en route to being named the game’s Most Valuable Player, throwing for 246 yards and two touchdowns to become the first Ragin’ Cajun to eclipse the 3,000-yard passing mark in a single season in program history. He finished the season with 26 total touchdown passes, the most in a single season.
The junior quarterback also led the team in rushing, toting the ball eight times for 62 yards. Elijah Mitchell was the top running back, notching 11 carries for 55 yards and a score, his 16th touchdown of the season.
Ja’Marcus Bradley hauled in seven passes during the game for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Bradley finished his illustrious career ranked fourth all-time in total receiving yards (2,359) and second all-time for career receiving touchdowns (23).
Sophomore Eric Garror was named the game’s defensive MVP after recording seven tackles against the Redhawks. Joe Dillon moved into a tie for third on the school’s career sack list with 1.0 sack and 2.0 tackles-for-loss, while Kris Moncrief finished the night with 1.0 sack and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Terik Miller led the Ragin’ Cajuns with eight total tackles.
Stevie Artigue was huge in the game with nine points, giving him 301 total points for his career. Artigue is now second on the all-time list in that category and is just the second player to record more than 300 points along with Elijah McGuire (318).
After a scoreless first quarter, Miami (Ohio) struck first with 10:25 showing on the game clock when Jaylon Bester rushed in from five yards out to put the Redhawks ahead 7-0. Four minutes later, Artigue booted through a 33-yard field goal to put the Ragin’ Cajuns on the board.
Mitchell gave Louisiana its first lead with 65 seconds left in the first half when he powered his way into the end zone from two yards out, sending the Ragin’ Cajuns into halftime with a 10-7 lead.
Louisiana got off to an electric start to open the second half, capping off a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Bradley to push the lead to 17-7 with 10:51 on the clock.
After Miami (Ohio) (8-6) connected on a 39-yard field goal, Louisiana found the end zone once again when Bradley hauled in his second touchdown of the night on third down from 12-yards out to go up, 24-10.
The Redhawks made some noise early in the fourth quarter when Bester scored his second touchdown to highlight a 77-yard drive and cut the deficit to one score. Artigue answered in a big way with a 38-yard boot to push the lead back to 27-17.
Needing a big stop in a big moment, Louisiana’s defense buckled down on the goal line and forced a turnover on downs to seal the 27-17 bowl victory.