The payoff? The Warhawks limited Troy to 285 yards, picked off two passes and made two sacks on in the resounding 28-14 homecoming win. "They did a great job this week preparing," defensive coordinator Troy Reffett said on ULM's postgame radio show. "The assistant coaches did a really good job implementing the new scheme in a short period of time."
Troy's 14 points were its fewest in a Sun Belt game since Oct. 28, 2006, when the Trojans defeated North Texas, 14-6. The Trojans also lost a conference game for the first time since falling at ULM 31-30 in 2008 – a span of 13 Sun Belt games.
"Our kids have pride," Reffett said. "They don't like anybody that thinks they're going to come into our stadium and run up and down the field on us."
Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan, one of the most productive offensive players in Sun Belt Conference history, caught three balls for 27 yards and had five rushes for 35 yards. His only pass attempt fell incomplete. "We could double cover Jernigan every time that we wanted to," Reffett said. "I think it gave us a chance to compete."
Jernigan's day ended late in the fourth quarter with a jarring hit from Henry Mitchell. He was helped off the field with a possible concussion."He's as good as anybody we've seen all year," Reffett said. "He can go play with any of those SEC schools we played all year."
ULM's three-man front helped fluster Troy's freshman quarterback Corey Robinson, who came in averaging 276.2 yards of total offense per game. Robinson completed 16-of-38 passes for 168 yards with two interceptions.
"They came ready to play today and we came in here looking to do what we've been doing -- throwing the football, getting a bunch of yards -- but it didn't seem to work out," Robinson said. "They came ready to play and wanted it more than we did."
Troy didn't score in the second half after trailing 21-14 at halftime and saw a key fourth-quarter drive end with 9:40 remaining at the ULM 4-yard line. On 4th and goal, Jordan Landry came racing in to hurry Robinson, linebacker Theo Smith tipped the pass and Robert Nelson made the interception at the 2.
Reffett said the sequence was a perfect snapshot of a defense that made plays all afternoon. The Warhawks recorded seven tackles for losses and eight players broke up a pass. "A defense is only as good as its execution," Reffett said. "The guys did a great job of executing the calls, playing hard and making plays that I don't think at times that we've made this year."
Welcome back: Holding a lead throughout the second half, ULM needed to run the football effectively – something the Warhawks have not done this year. The team came in averaging 85.4 rushing yards per game but rolled up 191 yards on the ground as part of their 428 yards of total offense. Senior Frank Goodin gave ULM a workmanlike 66 yards and gained positive yardage on all of his 15 carries. He averaged a solid 4.4 yards per rush.
Counting on Kolton: Kolton Browning hit 20-of-30 passes for 226 yards to extend his consecutive game streak with more 200 yards passing to seven games. Browing tossed a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores. His 1,741 passing yards are the most through eight games since Raymond Philyaw had 1,762 in 1996.
The prez: New ULM president Nick Bruno was on campus for the weekend as he prepares to take office. Bruno watched the final minutes of the win from the ULM sidelines, where he was spotted standing with Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and others.
Up next: ULM (4-4, 3-2) travels to FIU (2-5, 2-1) for its next game on Nov. 6. Kickoff for FIU's homecoming is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and will be shown live on the Sun Belt Network. FIU lost 21-9 to rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday in an annual conference contest dubbed "The Shula Bowl."
For FIU, T.Y. Hilton made eight catches for 124 yards. FIU quarterback Wesley Carroll completed 20-of-32 passes for 210 yards, but he was picked off three times. Freshman Kedrick Rhodes ran for a game and career-high 100 yards, becoming the first Panther to eclipse the century mark in rushing this year.
Tail feathers: Homecoming attendance was 19,980. It was the best home crowd for ULM since 21,929 on Oct. 4, 2008 when ULL visited Malone Stadium.
Former starting QB Trey Revell, the hero off the bench in ULM's 2008 win over Troy, didn't even dress out for the game. The senior watched from the stands. ….. ULM had 14 points in the first quarter and 21 points in the first half, both season highs.
WR Tavarese Maye's 43-yard touchdown run was his first career rushing touchdown and the longest running play of the year for ULM. Maye caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Browning, the longest scoring play of the season. … ULM has interceptions in seven of eight games this season.