Take Broadway for New Orleans Bowl MVP honors

NEW ORLEANS — Terrance Broadway was clutching two precious items in his arms Saturday not long after the end of the New Orleans Bowl.

In one arm, the Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback was delicately holding onto son Terrance Jr., making the little Broadway easily the youngest person on stage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“He means the world to me,” the elder Broadway said. “Everything I do is for him.”

In the other, the Baton Rouge product had a death grip on the bowl’s unique MVP award, just like he had a handle on what the East Carolina defense was doing.

“We knew they were going to attack me with the zone read,” Broadway said. “We just tried to get after them, and we were pretty successful with it.”

Broadway capped a record-setting season with his third 100-yard rushing performance in ULL’s past four games, racking up 108 yards and a score to go with 316 passing yards in the Cajuns’ 43-34 victory.

He was an easy choice as MVP, an honor that thrilled the 30-odd friends and family members who watched the ex-Capitol High standout end his sophomore season in style.

“We didn’t even know if he was going to play this year,” said cousin Naomi Dunbar, who was one of a handful of “Team Broadway” members wearing No. 8 jerseys in the front row, right in front of the Cajuns’ bench. “We were all nervous as we could be, but we’re definitely happy now. This is what he’s been waiting for.”

Broadway had a 12-yard touchdown run, pulling the ball back from tailback Alonzo Harris on an option to the left and scoring untouched to give ULL a 7-0 lead. After the Pirates had rallied from a 28-7 deficit to tie the score at 31 midway through the third quarter, he engineered a seven-play, 76-yard march capped by a 14-yard scoring toss to Javone Lawson with 3:07 to go in the period that gave the Cajuns the lead for good.

“I read a couple of articles from this week, and they said how they were going to key in on me,” Broadway said. “(Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson) did a really good job of dialing up those big plays to attack them when they were keying on me.”

Broadway entered the season as the backup to senior Blaine Gautier, the MVP in last year’s New Orleans Bowl after throwing for 470 yards in a 32-30 win over San Diego State. But Gautier went down with a broken hand in the fourth game, and Broadway was given the starting role.

“You never want to lose your starting quarterback, especially a senior,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “But Terrance came in and had a phenomenal season. The Monroe game is when Terrance really looked like he felt comfortable. The light came on for him, and he took us on his back. The second half of the season, we were playing offensively as well as anyone in the country.”

Even though he didn’t start the first two Sun Belt Conference games, Broadway ended the year leading the league in total offense (337.9 yards per game) by a wide margin as well as in passing efficiency. He also led the Cajuns and ranked fourth in the Sun Belt in rushing (73.6) in conference games.

Broadway (424 total yards) contributed to most of ULL’s 591-yard attack — the second-highest team output in New Orleans Bowl history. The only drive he didn’t engineer came in the second quarter: Hudsepth turned to Gautier when the Cajuns had the ball at their 2-yard line, and they scored five plays later on Alonzo Harris’ bowl-record 68-yard run.

“Those are two outstanding leaders,” Hudspeth said. “I don’t know if anyone in the country has two quarterbacks like we have.”

The top two individual offensive performances in the bowl’s history now belong to Gautier (492 yards last year) and Broadway. The Cajuns needed just about every one of those yards Saturday after East Carolina erased a 28-7 deficit to tie the score at 31.

“We were still upbeat,” Broadway said. “Nothing fazes this team, whether we’re up by 20 or down by a couple. With what we went through earlier this season, we can respond to adversity.”