Written By: Dallas Ward
ORLANDO, Fla. (OrlandoSportsFoundation.com) – The Tulane Green Wave won the 2018 AutoNation Cure Bowl benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), their fifth bowl victory in school history, by defeating the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 41-24, on Dec. 15 at Camping World Stadium. Tulane junior running back Darius Bradwell was named the Most Valuable Player following the victory.
“I wasn’t too tired but, 35 carries – that is the most that I have ever received in a game,” Bradwell said. “But, I’m just happy for these seniors. This whole season went to these seniors.”
This was the first AutoNation Cure Bowl appearance for both teams and marked the first time in Cure Bowl history that a game was played between in-state rivals. The Tulane Green Wave (7-6, 5-3 AAC) relied heavily on their run offense to surpass their neighborhood rival, the Ragin’ Cajuns (7-7, 5-3 Sun Belt).
“I am just really proud of the football program, the university and how they supported us,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “These guys worked their tails off, especially our seniors. There were some tough times here at Tulane. These guys embraced me and a new staff and just worked through everything. Every game this season was like fourth and inches – every one of them is tough.”
Even with a quick start and a touchdown on their first possession, the Ragin’ Cajuns shortly fell victim to the Green Wave’s offensive threat. Tulane went on to score three of their five touchdowns in the first quarter and kept their momentum throughout the game.
Although Louisiana managed to shorten the gap at the start of the fourth quarter to 27-24, the Green Wave remained ahead thanks to their rushing weapon, Darius Bradwell, who broke the previous Cure Bowl records in rushing attempts (35), rushing yards (150), and rushing TD’s (2).
On top of that, Tulane also managed to set bowl records for the highest net rushing yards at 337 and total offensive yards at 482. Both teams were a combined 8-for-8 in the red zone with Tulane accounting for six of those scores.
BRINGING TEAMS TOGETHER TO FIND A CURE FOR CANCER
- Following the first quarter, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) presented a check for $1,145,833 to Dr. Annette Khaled, professor and head of the cancer division at the UCF College of Medicine.
- The sum shows the amount that Dr. Khaled has received from the first three AutoNation Cure Bowl games, which raised $3.55 million for BCRF.
- At halftime, JA Edwards provided Orlando Sports Foundation with a $15,000 check, which were funds raised during a promotion where of portion of each roof built during October went to cancer research.
- FFVA Mutual also presented a check to Orlando Sports Foundation during halftime. A check of $16,600 showcased the money raised at the FFVA Mutual Invitational on Nov. 4.
- After the completion of the fourth quarter, Sanford, Fla., based SoftWash Systems presented a check for $102,371, which showed a three-year total donation to the Orlando Sports Foundation. The company has a nation-wide network of more than 250 soft washing professionals.
- The Orlando Sports Foundation’s mission is to bring teams together to find a cure for cancer.
- The Tulane offense relied on the rushing attack led by MVP Darrius Bradwell, who totaled 150 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns – all bowl records.
- His first plunge into the endzone came with 9:49 left in the first quarter on a 15-yard run to knot the score at 7-7.
- The Tallahassee, Fla., native scampered for four yards to provide Tulane with a comfortable 24-24 advantage with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We kept feeding him. He did a nice job of getting vertical. A couple times, they made some twists inside and got us in some fourth-and-short situations. For the most part, he did a really nice job of seeing the holes and getting vertical. He is a hard guy to arm tackle”
-Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz
CONTROLLING THE LINE
- The OUC Lineman of the Game was sophomore Corey Dublin, who helped lead the Green Wave offensive line that featured Noah Fisher, Dominique Briggs, John Leglue and Joey Claybrook.
- The Green Wave controlled the clock and registered a time of possession of 40:31.
- The Tulane defense held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 84 rushing yards on 30 attempts, while limiting the passing attack to just 11 completions and 175 yards.
“Well, earlier in the week we talked. We take pride in that (stopping the run) and we always want to have a challenge. And, we knew with two all-conference running backs, it was going to be a challenge. But then it’s fun for us and I’m happy about it.”
-Junior S Roderick Teamer Jr.
- The Tulane defense was in the Ragin’ Cajun backfield all game, recording 6.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss.
- Redshirt senior Zachery Harris tallied two sacks and three tackles for loss, while junior Lawrence Graham brought the quarterback down twice.
- The Green Wave forced Louisiana to lose a total of 48 yards on tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
- Harris also paced Tulane with eight solo stops.
“I knew coming in, stopping them from in the backfield was going to be a huge challenge for us. Number nine, Trey Ragas, I played him in High School so, I know how physical he is. Just being able to stop him and stop UL’s run defense was a huge accomplishment for us.”
-Louisiana Senior LB Zachery Harris
RAGIN’ CAJUN DEFFENSE
- Louisiana seemed to turn the tide at halftime when sophomore Braylen Trahan intercepted Tulane quarterback’s Justin McMillan’s pass and returned it for 63 yards.
- That play helped Ragin’ Cajuns cut the deficit to 24-10 at halftime.
- Seven different Louisiana players were credited for a sack.
- Trahan also forced a fumble that was recovered by the Ragin’ Cajuns.
- A team-best eight stops were credited to junior Ferrod Gardner.
“We have a special group of young men in that locker room that basically started the year with a new football staff and zero expectations. Through a journey and a commitment and a lot of time, effort and discipline, they made a steady improvement”
-Louisiana Head Coach Billy Napier