MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Levi Lewis and Louisiana-Lafayette added one more win to the most successful season in school history.
Lewis threw two touchdown passes to Ja'Marcus Bradley, and the Ragin’ Cajuns beat Miami of Ohio 27-17 in the LendingTree Bowl on Monday night.
Louisiana-Lafayette earned its first bowl win since 2014. It finished with a school-record 11 victories, two more than the previous mark.
“Tonight, our guys were at their best when it mattered most,” coach Billy Napier said. “We made a lot of progress as a team this season and in the last month leading up to this game.”
Lewis was 19 for 26 for 246 yards for the Ragin’ Cajuns (11-3), and Bradley finished with seven receptions for 88 yards. Lewis also had eight carries for a game-high 62 yards.
“I was just trying to be a team player and not worry about the stats,” said Lewis, who was named the game's MVP. “This is a great team to be around.”
Lewis found Bradley for a 9-yard score with 10:51 left in the third quarter. They connected for a 12-yard TD with 2:26 left in the third, lifting Louisiana-Lafayette to a 24-10 lead.
Elijah Mitchell also had a 2-yard touchdown run for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who earned their first bowl win outside their home state since 1944.
Miami (8-6) pulled within seven on Jaylon Bester's 1-yard touchdown run with 11:35 left. but Stevie Artigue kicked a 38-yard field goal to help Louisiana-Lafayette close out the victory.
The Ragin’ Cajuns also had a big goal-line stand, stopping the RedHawks four times from inside the 2-yard line.
“I thought this was a great football game,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “It was fast, hard-hitting and there was a fight for every inch out there. We’ve won all year by winning the turnover margin. Tonight, we lost the turnover margin 2-0, which was one of the keys to the game.”
Brett Gabbert was 22 for 31 for 248 yards for Miami, and Jack Sorenson had 10 receptions for 107 yards. Gabbert is the younger brother of NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Napier could be a candidate for some top jobs after the Ragin’ Cajuns' successful season. The second-year coach has already said he is not interested in the opening at Mississippi State.
Miami: The future is bright with Gabbert behind center for the RedHawks. The true freshman completed 12 straight passes at one point. That streak tied Florida’s Tim Tebow and Alabama’s Jake Coker for the seventh-longest consecutive completion streak in bowl history. The record is 19 straight by former Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo in the 1980 Outback Bowl.
SUN BELT SUCCESS
Louisiana-Lafayette's victory gave the Sun Belt Conference a 3-2 record this bowl season. The Mid-American Conference dropped to 3-4.
Louisiana-Lafayette will open next season with home games against McNeese State and Wyoming.
Winning the MAC championship after a 2-4 start to the season was a major stepping stone for the Redhawks. Dropping Iowa and Ohio State from the 2020 schedule should help continue the momentum. Miami opens the 2020 season at Pittsburgh.