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Football: Bowl victory a special ending for UL seniors

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, December 20, 2014



UL cornerback Sean Thomas (24) and safety Tracy Walker (23) tackle Nevada wide receiver Richy Turner (2) during the 2014 R�L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)



UL’s fourth straight New Orleans Bowl victory meant a lot of things to a lot of players, coaches and fans.

The number of seniors who finished off glorious careers with four consecutive bowls wins was a pretty stellar list.

Few of them, though, have a connection that runs deeper or has lasted longer than senior safety Sean Thomas.

Thomas, you see, was a Ragin’ Cajun long before he ever knew it, with his father, Quintin, playing defensive end and outside linebacker for the Cajuns from 1984-86.

Then there’s the fact that Thomas played his high school ball at St. Augustine in New Orleans.

So after stopping for a split second to reflect back on what had just transpired after Saturday’s 16-3 New Orleans Bowl win over Nevada, Thomas almost had trouble composing himself.

“To win four straight New Orleans Bowls, what a great experience,” Thomas said. “It’s unbelievable really. I’m truly blessed.”

Even in that humble and appreciative moment, however, Thomas found time for a little bit of humor.

“I showed him (father) how to do it,” he laughed. “Four-for-four. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Like everyone else on defense Saturday, Thomas said the Cajuns’ gameplan was to somehow stifle Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo.

“It was all about getting 11 hats to the ball,” Thomas said.

But truthfully in the aftermath of Saturday’s big win, it wasn’t about gameplans, nor was it about Xs and Os.

It was about a football team filled with success stories. The biggest one, though, was probably the senior leaders holding things together when the ship was shaky.

In fact, coach Mark Hudspeth hinted in Saturday’s postgame press conference that his senior leadership topped the list of things to be proud about this season.

Not only were the Cajuns 1-3, but they didn’t have their top receiver in Jamal Robinson. At the time, the offense’s passing game looked almost inept without him.

And yet there the other receivers were on Saturday playing a huge role in the Cajuns’ win.

James Butler had a career-high eight catches for 53 yards. Gabe Fuselier had six receptions for 50 yards, including a 31-yarder late that basically sewed up the victory.

C.J. Bates only had one catch, but it was for 17 yards and his first touchdown of the season.

“We’ve been trying to get one all year long,” Bates said. “One time, they caught me at the 5 and one time at the 1. I finally got one.”

Bates said he was most impressed with the win after hearing all week that Nevada was more of a second-half team.

“We actually did better against them in the second half,” Bates said. “I think we were just more athletic than they were.”

Then there’s the Notre Dame High duo of Jake Molbert and Hunter Stover. Both finished off football seasons for the sixth time in the Superdome — two with the Pios in the Class 3A state finals and four times in the New Orleans Bowl with the Cajuns.

“I wouldn’t know where else to end the season,” Stover said. “This is like the mecca of football in Louisiana, and we come here every year and it just gets better and better. I love it.”

“We just played lights out today,” Molbert said. “It was just a great team win.

“He (Hudspeth) is just a great competitive guy. He’s really run to play for.”

Then there’s the bedrocks. Guys like Alonzo Harris with 70 yards on 13 carries in his fourth straight bowl, Daniel Quave on the offensive line and Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton on the defensive line.

As Thomas said, “Four for Four” — not many college football players get to say that

And what about Trevence Patt? Here’s a guy whose positions moved around so much that he must have felt like a swivel at times, He delivered as well Saturday.

Naturally, the question arose in Saturday’s press conference about the future. It was a legitimate question, because there are a ton of potential missing answers.

On this day, however, it wasn’t about future.

It was about 36 wins in four years, including four in the New Orleans Bowl.