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Houston beats Louisiana in Independence Bowl on late TD

Dec 23, 2022; Shreveport, Louisiana, USA; Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns wide receiver Lance Legendre (12) runs after a catch as Houston Cougars linebacker Mannie Nunnery (14) makes the tackle during the first half in the 2022 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Tune completed 19 of 28 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 20 seconds remaining, to lift Houston to a 23-16 comeback win over Louisiana in the Independence Bowl on Friday afternoon in Shreveport, La.

Tune found Nathaniel Dell open for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining to break a 16-16 tie and clinch the win for the Cougars (8-5) in what was their third consecutive bowl appearance.

Louisiana (6-7) lost starting quarterback Chandler Fields in the fourth quarter to an apparent leg injury. Backup Zeon Chriss completed 4 of 6 passes for 25 yards but was intercepted by Jayce Rogers on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ final drive. D’Anthony Jones also had a key sack for the Cougars on that drive.

Fields completed 17 of 25 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown as Louisiana relied mostly on its passing game early on. Houston also flipped its offensive script early, trying to go to the ground more often until Tune found some offensive rhythm late in the first half. Tune, who made his 38th career start for Houston, also led the Cougars in rushing with 45 yards on 11 attempts.

The Ragin’ Cajuns set the tone early with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took up nearly half the first quarter and was capped by a 4-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone by Johnny Lumpkin.

Houston trailed 13-0 in the second quarter before Tune found KeSean Carter for a 33-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with three minutes left. Carter led Houston with 104 yards and that touchdown on only four catches.

Kyle Ramsey missed the extra point, however, and Louisiana tacked on its third field goal of the second quarter to take a 16-6 halftime lead.

Tune’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Dell with 9:21 left in the third quarter pulled Houston to within 16-13.

Houston’s defense managed to hold Louisiana’s offense, which ran for 129 yards, in check throughout the second half.

–Field Level Media