It was suppose to just be a good payday for ULM, an experience for ULM players to play in front of a big crowd on a big stage. Only one problem. Someone forgot to give the ULM Warhawks football team that message.
In a year that has produced probably the biggest upset in the history of college football,(Appl State over Michigan)the ULM Warhawks shocked the college football world again Saturday afternoon with a thrilling 21-14 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.
With the win ULM can add another SEC team to the list they have defeated since their moving to Division 1-A or now called FBS. ULM defeated Kentucky on Nov 12th, 1994 by the score of 21-14 and then beat Mississippi State on Sept 30th, 1995 by the score of 34-32. Those were special but nothing compared to the win over one of the most storied programs in the history of college football.
Things didn't look good for the visiting team as Alabama won the toss and looked to send an early message. The Tide took the ball at their own 20 and proceeded to march 80 yards in 7 plays and a score. Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson hit Keith Brown on a perfectly thrown fade pattern into the corner of the end zone. Leigh Tiffin's extra point gave the Tide a 7-0 lead.
ULM was able to run 15 plays in the first quarter and move the ball as deep as the Alabama 43 but couldn't break through and had to punt on both their possessions. It would be the final play of the first quarter that would change the momentum of the game for the Warhawks. ULM senior corner back Quintez Secka picked off Wilson and returned the ball 30 yards for what looked like a touchdown. Secka was ruled down at the one foot line as the first quarter came to and end.
The very first play of the second quarter would see the nations 10th leading rusher punch it in for the touchdown and tie the game at 7. It was Calvin Dawson's 12th rushing touchdown on the season.
Just like good football team's do, the Tide would come right back on their next possession. Alabama would take the ball and march 63 yards on 7 plays and take the lead on a Terry Grant 12 yard touchdown scamper. Grant led all rushers in the game finishing with 96 yards on 21 carries.
The Warhawks took the Tide's best shot and then answered with one of their own. ULM would start the drive on the 20 yard line and go 80 yards on 10 plays to tie the game back up at 14. Facing a third and ten, quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster found walk on wide receiver Marty Humphrey down the sideline for a 40 yard completion to keep the drive alive. It was the footwork of Lancaster that allowed him to step up in the pocket and find the open Humphrey.
Red shirt freshman running back Frank Goodin would tie the game when he broke 4 tackles and rumbled 13 yards before diving across the goal line for the touchdown. Goodin, the heir apparent to Dawson, ran the ball six times for 41 yards and the score.
Alabama would pick up a quick 30 yards on two plays but would stall and have to punt the ball back to the Warhawks. ULM would have no luck on their next drive but a punt back to the Tide would turn into a gift for the visiting team. A muffed punt by the tide would be recovered by ULM and have a fresh set of down at the Alabama 40 yard line. The good field position would be squandered as a ten yard penalty would set the Warhawks back and force yet another punt. Bama would let the clock run out on the half and both teams headed to the locker room tied at 14.
ULM would storm out of the locker room and take the opening possession and drive it all the way down to the Alabama 35 yard line. An 11 play drive would end in a fake field goal, as Scott Love would take the snap and punt the ball down to the Tide 14 yard line. The strategy would work as Nick Saban's tide would go three and out and be forced to punt.
With 7:21 left in the third quarter the Warhawk offense would stay hot and again march the ball back down the field. ULM would pick up a critical third and 6 when Lancaster found Darrell McNeal on a quick slant for 11 yards and first down. A 19 yard completion for Humphrey would move the ball up to the Warhawk 49 and again give ULM a fresh set of downs. The drive would again face a third down and this time at the Alabama 11 yard line. Marty Humphrey would again come up big as he caught a short crossing route, broke a tackle, and scored what would be the winning touchdown in the game.
The ULM defense would rise the occasion on the next Crimson Tide possession. Starting at their own 25, Alabama would march all the way down to the ULM 19 before the drive stalled. Tiffin would come out for what would be a 37 yard field goal that would cut the Warhawk lead to 4. Wide out LaGregory Sapp would thwart those plans as he jumped up and blocked the kick. Corner Back Jared Berry would recover the kick and return it 7 yards before being tackled.
Neither team would get anything going until the 4:15 mark of the fourth quarter. Bama would drive deep into ULM territory but Jimmy Johns would fumble the ball and the Warhawks would recover. ULM would be backed up to their own 2 yard line and have to punt the ball right back to the tide.
Starting at the ULM 26 it looked as if the home team was about to push one across and tie the game. The Warhawk defense would not have any of it as they stuffed the Tide on fourth and 2 and turned the ball back over the ULM. Following another punt Alabama would get one last shot to tie the ball game up.
Once again the ULM defensive front four would cause problems and not give John Parker time to throw the ball. Parker's fourth down pass was broken up by sophomore bandit James Truxillo and the ULM sideline erupted into celebration. ULM head coach Charlie Weatherbie was doused with an ice bath as the crowd of 92,138 sat shocked at what they had just witnessed.
With the win ULM improves to 5-6(3-3) on the season while Alabama drops to 6-5(4-3) and will face Auburn in the Iron Bowl next week. ULM will return to action next Saturday when they close out the 2007 season on the road at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. With a win the Warhawks would become bowl eligible.