The last bowl game of the 2019-2020 College Football bowl season lived up to the hype. The 2020 LendingTree Bowl game featured two elite non-automatic qualifying teams in the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns and the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. What expected to be a high-scoring affair between two distinctive offenses became a fight for points amid some good drives. In the first half, there were only 17 points scored despite 362 total yards on offense. In the second half, there were 27 points scored. The Ragin Cajuns took home this victory over the Redhawks with a 27-17 score. This win got Louisiana their 11th win of the season. The MVP of the game was dual-threat quarterback Levi Lewis.
2020 LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana Beats Miami
Both Offenses Started Well
The Ragin Cajuns and the Redhawks’ offenses had two significantly long drives that ended in punts. Further, the Redhawks were the first team on the board on their third drive of the game. In a ten-play drive, running back Jaylon Bester scored on a five-yard run. Louisiana finished the first half with two straight possessions ending in a field goal and touchdown. Both offenses accounted for 362 total yards with Louisiana accounting for 217 total yards.
The Redhawks’ defense was up to the task of shutting down the Ragin Cajuns’ efficient power run game. Louisiana only accounted for 60 yards in the rushing game with Lewis accounting for 20 of those rushing yards. In addition, Lewis passed for 157 yards on 12 completions (out of 16 attempts). Louisiana accounted for 10 unanswered points in the second quarter that gave them a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Third Quarter: Back and Forth
At the beginning of the second half, both the Ragin Cajuns and the Redhawks traded scores in the four total drives in the third quarter. Lewis threw for two touchdowns to wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley in the third quarter. The offensive line for both teams was blocking efficiently. Neither allowed a single sack. Redhawks quarterback Brett Gabbert made efficient throws that extended drives and put Miami on the scoreboard. In the third quarter, both teams accounted for a total of 248 yards on offense. The Ragin Cajuns accounted for 141 yards in the quarter versus the Redhawks’ 107 yards in the third quarter.
Louisiana Forces Key Mistakes
Miami started off the fourth quarter by scoring from their drive that started near the end of the third quarter. Just as the Redhawks were thriving off momentum, a key fumble by Bester killed Miami’s consistency. Ragin Cajuns safety Percy Bulter forced the fumble near midfield and defensive end Ja-Quane Nelson recovered it. Louisiana then capitalized on the huge mistake from the Redhawks with an eight-play drive. The long drive resulted in a 38-yard field goal from kicker Stevie Artigue. Despite driving into the red zone, the Louisiana defense forced a turnover on downs due to a mishandled snap. The Ragin Cajuns stopped the Redhawks’ offense one last time on a turnover on downs. They did so with a sack on Gabbert from outside linebacker Kris Moncrief and defensive tackle Zy’Yon Hill. Louisiana forced a fumble and two turnovers on downs on Miami’s final three drives.
Performances of the Game
Lewis was the offensive MVP. The quarterback passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns on 19 completions (out of 26 attempts). He also led the team in rushing yards with 62 yards on eight rushes. He was the dynamic player the Ragin Cajuns needed when the running backs were held to a minimal impact. The Redhawks’ defense crowded the line of scrimmage on outside runs. However, the offensive line did hold a tenacious Redhawks defense to only one tackle for loss. Wide receiver, Bradley, had seven receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Louisiana outgained Miami’s offense 401-to-351. Finally, Artigue was named special teams MVP of the game. Artigue went two-for-two in field goals of 33-yards in the second quarter and 38-yards in the fourth quarter.
Louisiana cornerback Eric Garror was named defensive MVP after accounting for seven total tackles and half of a tackle for loss. Garror was quick and reactionary to plays even when coverage schemes fell apart. Defensive back Terik Miller led Louisiana in total tackles accounted for with eight. In addition, Miller accounted for one tackle for loss. Outside linebacker Joe Dillon recorded two tackles for loss. Finally, Moncrief had five total tackles, one-and-a-half tackles for loss, and one-and-a-half sacks. Overall, the Ragin Cajuns defense accounted for six tackles for loss, three sacks, and one turnover.
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