Despite everything that could have gone wrong for ULM, the Warhawks persevered and came out victorious over the Arkansas State Red Wolves 16-10 Tuesday night on ESPN2.
Expecting a huge crowd, heavy rains pounded Northeast Louisiana and kept most of the Warhawk faithful indoors, but that didn't stop the students from showing up and being rowdy. If the Warhawks had a 12th man tonight on defense it was the loud and rambunctious ULM student section that cheered them onto victory.
The Warhawks wasted no time getting on the board as quarterback Trey Revell executed a perfect 48 yard play action pass to receiver LaGregory Sapp for the touchdown. Sapp juggled the ball before bringing in for the highlight catch.
The ULM defense was outstanding all night long and came up with big play after big play. Troy Reffett's swarming 3-3-5 defense held the Red Wolves to minus 19 yards on 11 plays in the first quarter of action.
After a Ryan Wilbourn 50 yard punt, ULM would set up shop inside their 10 yard line at the six. A Frank Goodin 33 yard run, followed by a 31 yard strike to Darrell McNeal would move the ball all the way down to the Arkansas State 30. The next play however would be costly. Trey Revell called his own number and kept the football only to get sandwiched by two ASU defenders. Revell was bent back awkwardly and injured his thumb on his throwing hand on the play. Revell stayed in the game for one more play but obviously was feeling the affects as he was intercepted in the end zone on the next play killing the ULM drive.
It wasn't until the 10 minute mark of the second quarter that ASU picked up their first 1st down. The Red Wolves started at their own 10 yard line and moved the ball out to the 48 but Corey Leonard fumbled setting up a 2nd and 19. On the very next play Nate Brown intercepted Leonard at the 48 yard line setting up the Warhawks with good field position.
ULM would take advantage of that good field position and drive the ball 53 yards on 6 plays and cap it with a Frank Goodin 1 yard touchdown run. The big play on the drive was a Cody Wells quick pass to Luther Ambrose for 39 yards. Ambrose weaved through traffic and appeared to score but was marked down at the one foot line.
The Red Wolves woes continued on their next possession as Hawk safety James Truxillo intercepted Leonard ending another ASU drive at the ULM 28 yard line.
In the second half it would be a role reversal for the two teams and the Warhawks were clearing missing their leader behind center in Revell. Trey returned to the sidelines in the second half but wearing a hard cast on his throwing hand and would not return. In his absence the Warhawks did not pick up a first down until the 12:35 mark of the 4th quarter.
Adding to the pressure was the fact that ASU took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 61 yards on 10 plays and scored on a 14 yard pass from Leonard to Brandon Thompkins that cut the lead to 16-7. Corey Leonard was 4/6 for 57 yards on the drive.
ULM ran 9 offensive plays in the 3rd quarter and only picked up 6 yards. Not helping quarterback Cody Wells were his receivers as senior Darrell McNeal dropped a sure first down on an inside bubble screen. Tight end Alvin Jordan also dropped a would be first down in the quarter.
Perhaps the drive on the night for ULM started with 13:34 left in the fourth quarter and didn't end until Radi Jabour missed a chip shot 22 yard field goal off the left upright. Though ULM didn't score they kept the ball for 8:45 as they drove it 77 yards on a whopping 17 plays. The big play on the drive was a 21 yard pass play to senior J.J. McCoy that extended the series. From there Goodin turned into a workhorse carrying the ball 8 times for 26 yards.
ASU took over with two timeouts and 4:49 left on the clock and slowly moved the ball down field. Corey Leonard converted three straight 3rd downs to move the ball into ULM territory at the 20. That's when the bend but don't break ULM defense rose to the occasion and started backing the Red Wolves up.
On 2nd and 15, defensive end Troy Evans sacked Leonard for a loss of six yards making it 3rd and 21. After a timeout, Evans introduced himself to Leonard again, this time for a 12 yard loss setting up a 4th and 33 at the ULM 43. Leonard's desperation heave into the end zone bounced off the soaking wet turf as the Warhawk defense celebrated in victory.
Defensively ULM held a potent Red Wolves rushing attack to just 29 yards on 34 carries. ASU came into the game averaging 162 rush yards, 2nd in the conference behind ULM. ASU didn't help their own cause committing 16 penalties for 105 yards and turning the ball over 3 times. Leonard was responsible for all three(2 int's, 1 fumble).
ULM threw for 150 yards on 8/17 passing and ran the ball 41 times for 124 yards. Goodin lead all rushers with 97 on 27 carries and a touchdown. The Warhawks fumbled the ball 4 times but recovered all four and were picked off one time.
The Warhawks swarming defense sacked Leonard 5 times, picked him off twice, and had six tackles for loss. Cardia Jackson led all tacklers with 14 followed by Darius Prelow with 11. Prelow also had 3 pass break ups.
ULM will now have 11 days off to prepare for an out of conference contest against the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington.