North Texas Too Much For ULM

North Texas Too Much For ULM

Each week ULM coach Todd Berry seems satisfied with what he sees from his team during closed practice sessions. But come game day, Berry is never sure what version of the Warhawks he's going to put on display. ULM's second-year coach was perplexed again last Saturday after North Texas topped the Warhawks 38-21 in Denton, Texas.

"It wasn't very good," Berry said after the game. "I'm having a hard time reading these guys. We had good practices this week. But we had too many dropped balls, too many missed blocks and two many missed tackles. We've got to go back to work."

North Texas (3-5, 2-2) ripped the ULM defense for 459 yards, including 332 yards through the air from quarterback Derek Thompson. It was the first 300-yard passing game of his career. Running back Lance Dunbar finished with 139 yards on 29 carries, but that included a back-breaking 60-yard TD run to give North Texas its final winning margin.

ULM's offense gained 343 yards but drives perished regularly as the Warhawks converted just two-of-14 third down opportunities. Quarterback Kolton Browning was assaulted by UNT defenders for most of the afternoon with four sacks but the most damning play came as the Warhawks were trying to rally in the fourth quarter.

Julian Herron stuffed the redshirt sophomore, returned the ensuing fumble 16 yards for a touchdown and squashed the comeback hopes of ULM.

"We lost communication and gave up a pressure that lost the football game," ULM offensive coordinator Steve Farmer said in his post game radio interview.

ULM had two fourth-quarter turnovers and UNT had none in the game. Backup quarterback Cody Wells threw a pick on third-and-21 in the final minutes after relieving a banged up Browning.

"Those are things when you start trying to make things happen," Berry said. "We didn't protect as well as I would like to see us protect. That created one fumble with Kolton. Cody's situation was getting in that desperation when you have to make a play and you have to make a throw. We played relatively turnover free during the early part of the game. Late in the game you've got to create things. You've got to make something happen."

Key injury: Running back Centarius Donald ran for 84 yards on 11 carries at UNT but left the game in the third quarter with an injury. He began hobbling at the end of a 33-yard run, needed help leaving the field and did not return. Berry refused to talk injury specifics but sounded pessimistic.

"He is undergoing medical procedures right now to determine the extent of the issue," Berry said Monday during the Sun Belt conference call. "We probably won't know until tomorrow what we're looking at."

Berry said punt return specialists Tyler Cain was also injured in the game in the third quarter. "We're in that same process in terms of evaluations," Berry said.

Reigning in Rainey: ULM's run defense, which has been solid most of the season, faces the Sun Belt's top backs in back-to-back weeks. North Texas star Lance Dunbar rushed for 139 yards on 29 carries in the win over the Warhawks on Saturday. Incoming is Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey, who slashed ULL for 206 yards and three TDs last week in an upset victory.

"I was very impressed with Dunbar, as I knew I would be," Berry said. "He created issues for us last year and created issues for us this year. We didn't wrap up on his as well as we would have liked to have. Rainey creates that same type of problem. Individual tackles don't work against great backs. You've got to be able to gang tackle. That's what we have to do against Western Kentucky this week."

There's Luther: Luther Ambrose was named Sun Belt Special Teams player of the week. His 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the second of his career and the first for ULM since he returned a kickoff 91-yards at Arkansas State on Oct. 11, 2008. Ambrose became ULM's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage with his touchdown run and now has 2,126.

Quote to note: "I don't think we played our best ball game and I think that comes with trying to deal with a little bit of prosperity in terms of our victory over Troy the week before. We didn't have the same type of energy and expectation last week." – ULM's Todd Berry on the Sun Belt media conference call.

Up next: ULM (2-5, 1-2) plays host to Western Kentucky(3-4, 3-1) for its homecoming game on Oct. 29. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. at Malone Stadium. The Hilltoppers have three straight wins, including 42-23 over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. WKU ended an 18-game home losing streak by creaming the Cajuns.

Tail feathers: North Texas racked up 459 yards of total offense on the Warhawks, which are the most by a ULM opponent in 2011. The previous high was 453 yards by Iowa earlier this year. …Brent Leonard finished with eight catches for 113 yards, his second 100-plus yard receiving game … ULM's 24-21 deficit after three quarters of play marked the fifth time this season that it had been behind after three quarters of play. The Warhawks are 0-5 in those games. … ULM did not force a turnover for the first time this season and just the fourth time in 31 games with Troy Reffett as defensive coordinator. … Jason Edwards tied his career-high with 13 tackles to lead the ULM defense . … North Texas recorded its third consecutive home win, and reached a 3-1 mark at home for the first time since 2004. … After not scoring a passing touchdown in each of the past two games, North Texas amassed 332 passing yards and three touchdowns against ULM.

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