Better late than never.
That could be the theme for ULM, which rallied for four fourth-quarter touchdowns for its 35-30 victory over winless Western Kentucky. Trailing 24-7 entering the quarter, the Warhawks scored on three consecutive possessions and got a fourth score on an interception return for an 11-point cushion.
Louisiana-Monroe recovered an onside kick to seal the deal after the Hilltoppers scored in the final minute.
"What we're going to do from this point on, when we're at home, we're just going to put a four on the bottom of the quarter and we're not going to go first, second, third and fourth," coach Todd Berry told the Monroe News-Leader. "I think we play better when we see the four."
Earlier this season, the Warhawks needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to get past Southeastern Louisiana by one point, and they scored the decisive touchdown with under three minutes left in a three-point victory over Florida Atlantic. For the second consecutive game, freshman running back Jyruss Edwards gave the Warhawks the lead for the first time, scoring on a 6-yard run to make it 28-24 with 3:35 left in the game. A week earlier, he had scored the decisive touchdown in a 20-17 victory over Florida Atlantic.
"We never panicked," Edwards told the News-Leader. "We knew what we had to do. We had to depend on our defense like always. We knew we were going to go out there and do our job and refuse to lose."
The victory evened Louisiana-Monroe's record at 3-3 and left the Warhawks 2-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. They are back on the road again for the next game, traveling to preseason conference favorite Middle Tennessee on Saturday. That will be the second outing of a five-game stretch that has them on the road four times. The only home game for the Warhawks in that span is Oct. 30 against Troy.
--Redshirt freshman RB Jyruss Edwards led Louisiana-Monroe in rushing with 60 yards on 12 carries and also scored two touchdowns, his second and third of the season. His 33-yard run in the second quarter was Louisiana-Monroe's first run of more than 20 yards this season.
--Senior RB Frank Goodin continues to struggle to get his game going, but he did score his first touchdown of the season on a two-yard run to bring Louisiana-Monroe to within three points of Western Kentucky midway through the fourth quarter. Goodin had only 21 yards rushing, however, on eight carries, giving him 158 for the season.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Kolton Browning -- The redshirt freshman threw for 208 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-33 passing against the Hilltoppers. He didn't have an interception. It was his fifth consecutive game of more than 200 yards passing, and he also rushed for 52 yards on nine carries. Browning has thrown a touchdown pass in five of Louisiana-Monroe's six games, missing only against Auburn.
KEEP AN EYE ON: CB Robert Nelson -- Nelson came up with the first interception of his career at a key moment at Western Kentucky. He returned the fourth-quarter pick 55 yards for a touchdown and a 35-24 lead.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It never crossed our mind. It never crossed my mind, for sure." -- RB Jyruss Edwards, to the Monroe News-Leader, on the possibility of losing at Western Kentucky.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The defense came up with five sacks and an interception at Western Kentucky and held the Hilltoppers to 164 yards passing. On the other side of the ball, QB Kolton Browning threw for 208 yards, with WR Luther Ambrose catching five passes for 77 yards and WR Tavarese Maye grabbing five for 31 yards. Ambrose had the only touchdown reception. The Warhawks rushed for 131 yards, with RB Jyruss Edwards accounting for 60 of the total on only 12 carries.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Warhawks gave up 180 yards rushing to the Hilltoppers with RB Bobby Rainey, the conference's leader rushing, gaining 169 on 32 carries. Aaron Munoz averaged only 34.2 yards on five punts, although three were downed inside Western Kentucky's 20-yard line. His long of the game carried only 39 yards, and he also threw incomplete on two fourth-down passes.
--WR Tim Taylor's reception in the second quarter was his first of the season. He became the 15th Warhawk with a reception this year.
--CB Robert Nelson's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown was the first such return for a score since Greg James ran a pick back against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2008.