ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Darius Bradwell rushed for a career-best 150 yards and two touchdowns to lead Tulane to its first postseason victory in 16 years, a 41-24 win over intrastate rival Louisiana-Lafayette in the Cure Bowl on Saturday.
Justin McMillan improved to 5-1 as the Green Wave's starting quarterback, tossing a first-quarter TD pass to Terren Encalade and running for a late score while accounting for 217 yards total offense — 145 passing and 72 rushing.
Bradwell scored on runs of 15 and 4 yards while setting bowl records for rushing attempts (35) and yards for Tulane (7-6), which won a bowl game for the first time since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl.
The Green Wave also got a rushing TD from Amare Jones and outgained the Ragin' Cajuns 337 yards to 84 on the ground.
Lousiana-Lafayette (7-7) rallied from a 24-7 deficit to pull within three points on Jarrod Jackson's 15-yard TD reception with just over 10 minutes remaining.
McMillan put the game away, leading a 75-yard drive Bradwell finished with his second TD and later scoring himself on a 16-yard run that put Tulane up 41-24.
Andre Nunez completed 8 of 17 passes for 136 yards and one TD, however Louisiana-Lafayette's productive running tandem of Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell were not a factor after falling behind early.
Tulane won four of five down the stretch in the regular season to not only qualify for its first bowl berth in five years, but also finished with a winning record (5-3) in conference play for the first time since 2014.
McMillan was one of the keys, providing consistent quarterback play while throwing for more than 1,100 yards and accounting for 13 touchdowns — nine passing and four rushing.
The graduate transfer from LSU, where he appeared on only two games from 2015-17, was 11 of 18 passing with one interception Saturday.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Ragas rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and Mitchell fell just shy of 1,000 this season, however neither was a factor after the Ragin' Cajuns fell behind by double-digits. Ragas was limited to 40 yards on 10 carries, and Mitchell had 26 yards on six attempts and scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.
Tulane: The Green Wave rushed for 483 yards and finished with a Cure Bowl-record and season-best 28 first downs. Bradwell topped 100 yards for the third time, finishing the season with 1,134 yards and 11 rushing TDs.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Nunez is a senior, however Ragas, Mitchell and Calas are all underclassmen for the Ragin' Cajuns, who moving forward have a solid foundation to build on Napier, who inherited a team that went 5-7 last season.
Tulane: McMillan has a year of eligibility remaining, as do Bradwell and Corey Dauphine, who combined for 1,928 yards and 18 TDs rushing. The Green Wave have never made bowl appearances in consecutive seasons, but will enter 2019 with heightened expectations after their strong finish.
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