Hoping to cook up a respectable showing, ULM instead followed a recipe for disaster Saturday night at Tiger Stadium in its second-ever football meeting with LSU.
The Warhawks coughed up five turnovers on their way to a 51-0 loss to the nation’s fifth-ranked team. ULM spoon-fed LSU 31 points off gaffes, including an interception return and a fumble return for a touchdown.
Death Valley indeed.
“I think we had a good offensive game plan,” ULM coach Todd Berry said. “It was just really, really poor execution by our offensive football team. You can’t have penalties and you can’t have turnovers. That’s the two things we talked about with our offense before the game started. If you eliminate those two things, we knew we’d be competitive in the game. We didn’t eliminate them, so consequently, when you’re undisciplined, this is the type of stuff that happens.”
Quarterback Kolton Browning, limping through with an undisclosed foot or ankle injury, endured the worst game of his career. Browning was 8-of-17 passing for 61 yards and two interceptions, and he was sacked twice. Backup Cody Wells (2-5-1, six yards) also saw action in the second half.
After losing “Wild Warhawk” quarterback Zach Rhodes for the season with an injury, ULM had true freshmen wide receiver Luke Russell taking direct snaps from center. Russell ran 11 times for 20 yards. He had one reception for seven yards and one completion for 34 yards entering the game.
“We were starting to hit our stride on offense the past couple of weeks, but that didn’t happen at all tonight,” Berry said. “We will try to get some guys healthy -- we are a very banged up football team right now and that led to some of the personnel things we did today. We were trying to limit how many snaps some guys got in the ball game.”
ULM managed just 190 yards of total offense and converted 1-of-12 third-down chances. The Warhawks were penalized five times for 45 yards and punted seven times.
“We didn’t do what I told our football team to do today, and that is my fault because for whatever reason they didn’t buy into it,” Berry said.
Getting defensive: Even with the big score, LSU’s offense didn’t enjoy a monster night against ULM. With its defense putting the Tigers in a short field consistently, LSU managed only 251 yards of total offense and was 2-of-12 on third down conversions.
“I’m very, very proud of our defense,” Berry said. “I think that they showed up. We did some things that created some confusion. It was a good defensive game plan.”
Ken Dorsey recorded a career-high two sacks. Darius Prelow tied a career-high with 11 tackles.
Full circle Senior linebacker Troy Giddens, who began his college career at LSU, made his first ULM start. Opening instead of Cameron Blakes, Giddens recorded two tackles.
“It’s a great feeling,” Giddens said of the opportunity. “When I came out, it felt like a dream at kickoff, making the first tackle. It felt like a dream, and it’s a nice ending to my career.”
Quote to note: “I want to say that I felt like UL-Monroe fought like hell the whole time, and Todd Berry does a great job there. I felt like their team continued to play right through the game.” – LSU coach Les Miles.
Up next: With its road schedule complete for the season, ULM (4-6, 3-3) plays host to Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas on Saturday.
The Mean Green stunned Middle Tennessee 23-17 on Saturday as running back Lance Dunbar gashed the reeling Blue Raiders for 226 yards and a TD on 36 carries. UNT also forced three turnovers.
North Texas (3-7, 3-4) improved to 2-1 under interim coach Mike Canales, who took over for fired head coach Todd Dodge at midseason.
Tail feathers: No. 5 LSU is the fourth-highest ranked team that ULM has played since moving to FBS in 1994. Ranked higher were No. 3 Florida (1998), No. 2 Florida (2001) and No. 2 Texas (2009). … LSU beat ULM 49-7 to open the 2003 season in the first football meeting between the schools. … RB Jyruss Edwards led ULM with 49 yards rushing. … Luther Ambrose moved in 10th place on the ULM single-season receptions list with 54. He is tied with Darrell McNeal and Jackie Harris. Ambrose’s 4-yard reception in the third quarter was the 100th of his career. … LSU cornerback Ron Brooks scored on a 32-yard interception return in the first quarter and defensive end Lavar Edwards returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Tigers multiple defensive touchdowns for the first time since Oct. 12, 1991, against Arkansas State. … Attendance was announced at 92,518.