Terrance Broadway walked into a hotel meeting room at around 5:45 a.m. and knew immediately that an unusual 10 a.m. kickoff in the New Orleans Bowl wouldn't be a problem for Louisiana-Lafayette.
"It looked like people were partying in the meeting rooms, like the music was blasting," the Ragin' Cajuns quarterback said, grinning at the memory. "It was like it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It didn't look like it was 5:45, and our team was ready."
Broadway set an NCAA Division I bowl game record by completing his first 14 passes, finishing with 227 yards and a touchdown to lead Louisiana-Lafayette past Nevada 16-3 on Saturday.
Hunter Stover made a career-long 46-yard field goal in the first half and added kicks of 35 and 30 yards for the Ragin' Cajuns (9-4), who completed their fourth consecutive nine-victory season with their fourth straight New Orleans Bowl win.
"We put together four quarters of possibly the best football we played this year," said Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth.
He took great pride in his team winning eight of its last nine games after starting 1-3.
"That shows a lot of determination by these young men of knowing they had a much better team," Hudspeth said. "That to me was very rewarding in itself this year — a different season, but a great season for the way we finished."
Cody Fajardo passed for 124 yards and rushed for 49 more for Nevada (7-6), marking the second time he'd passed for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000 in a season.
But the Wolf Pack, who had 200 or more yards rushing in each of their previous five games, gained only 89 yards on the ground against ULL and failed to score a touchdown for the first time since being shut out at Notre Dame in 2009.
"Things just didn't go our way. We weren't on the details and we paid for it," Fajardo said. "To not score a touchdown in your last game is pretty hard for me, knowing that this offense kind of moves the way I move. I put it all on my shoulders."
Still, Nevada had chances to make the game tighter.
Early in the second quarter, receiver Wyatt Demps fumbled on a hit by Sean Thomas moments after a completion just inside the ULL 10, and the ball was recovered by Cajuns linebacker Dominique Tovell at the 11.
Later in the quarter, Nevada had a first-and-goal at the 1, only to move back 5 yards with a false start. The Cajuns then stuffed a running play and forced two incompletions before Nevada settled for a field goal.
"It's missed opportunities," coach Brian Polian said. "We get it deep into the red zone twice; we have to settle for three points. … We didn't find a way to make a play and that's got to be the next step in our progression."
Broadway's fast start helped keep Fajardo on the sideline but didn't amount to many points.
The Cajuns scored their only touchdown on their opening possession, capped by Broadway's 17-yard pass over the middle to C.J. Bates. Stover's first field goal was the only other ULL score in the opening half.
Broadway's first incompletion didn't come until 44 seconds remained in the first half, when the Cajuns were threatening again. But Brock Hekking's sack of Broadway took ULL out of field goal range.
Fajardo completed 14 of 29 passes, and his incompletions included a pair of key fourth-down passes in the fourth quarter. Both quarterbacks were sacked four times.
Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire rushed for 99 yards and also caught five passes for 54 yards, and ULL outgained Nevada 411-213. Louisiana-Lafayette possessed the ball for 36:54.
Broadway finished 26 of 31 with no interceptions. He had one turnover when he fumbled on a sack. He credited his receivers and offensive line for his most valuable player honors.