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|ULM falls to FIU, 28-17|
ULM held FIU to just 57 yards in the second half, however a 28-point first half was enough to lift the Golden Panthers to a 28-17 victory over ULM on Senior Day at Malone Stadium on Saturday.
Following a pair of touchdown passes by Wesley Carroll to Colt Anderson and Glenn Coleman put FIU (7-4, 4-3 Sun Belt) up 14-0, Luther Ambrose wrote himself into the ULM and Sun Belt record books with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Ambrose finished with 162 all-purpose yards after returning a pair of punts for 33 yards and adding a 30-yard kickoff return before FIU began to kick away from him.
Ambrose, an All-American in the 100m dash, became the fifth player in Sun Belt Conference history and first in ULM history to return two kicks for a score in a season. He moved into second place in Sun Belt history with his third career kick-off return for a touchdown and first in ULM history. Ambrose returned a kick 100 yards for a score at North Texas earlier this season and one 91 yards for a touchdown at Arkansas State in 2008.
The Golden Panthers needed just three plays following Ambrose's electrifying return to steal the momentum back as Carroll threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton. Later in the quarter, a 37-yard punt by Josh Brisk pinned the Warhawks on their own 8-yard line. Two plays later Jonathan Cyprien intercepted Kolton Browning and went untouched for a 9-yard return to push the FIU lead out to 28-7.
ULM outgained FIU 356 to 340 in the game to mark the sixth time in seven Sun Belt contests that the Warhawks have finished the game with more yards of total offense than their opponent.
Browning finished the game 26-of-59 for 246 yards and also rushed for 101 yards on 25 carries (this includes 18 negative yards from four FIU sacks). He is the first ULM quarterback to top the 100-yard mark on the ground since Kinsmon Lancaster rushed for 126 yards at Middle Tennessee in 2008. It was his sixth time this season and ninth career time to lead the Warhawks in rushing -- both school records.
Carroll finished 16-of-34 for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Kedrick Rhodes had 18 carries for 87 yards and caught five passes for 74 yards. Hilton added four catches for 76 yards, but was limited to just one kickoff return for 15 yards -- he entered the game eighth in the NCAA averaging 30.1 yards per return.
At the end of the first half, ULM (3-8, 2-5) moved the ball with its two-minute offense before the drive stalled at the FIU 7-yard line with four seconds remaining. Justin Manton booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired on the opening half to set the halftime score at 28-10 in FIU's favor.
The Warhawks had their chances in the second half but could not capitalize on three possessions deep in Golden Panther territory. The opening drive of the second half ended on the FIU 22-yard line as the Warhawks could not convert on fourth down from a yard out.
A three-and-out by the ULM defense -- one of four on six FIU possessions in the second half -- put the ball quickly back into the hands of the Warhawk offense. Browning orchestrated a 15-play drive which gave the Warhawks a first-and-goal at the FIU 7-yard line. However, a holding penalty on first down and a 9-yard loss on second down forced a 43-yard field goal attempt by Manton that hit the right upright.
Browning scored the only points of the second half with a 1-yard touchdown run to cap a 9-play, 80-yard drive early in the fourth quarter. It was his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and eighth of his career.
Another three-and-out by the ULM defense gave the ball back to Browning and the offense with 7:42 to play in the game. The sophomore signal caller completed four passes and picked up 18 yards on the ground to give the Warhawks a first down on the FIU 12-yard line. On third down from the six, Richard Leonard ended ULM's comeback hopes as he intercepted Browning in the end zone.
The Warhawks are off next weekend before they wrap up the 2011 season on Dec. 3 at Florida Atlantic.
FIU - Anderson 13-yard pass from Carroll (Griffin kick), 5:19, 1st 0-7
FIU - Coleman 27-yard pass from Carroll (Griffin kick), 9:22, 2nd 0-14
ULM - Ambrose 98-yard kick return (Manton kick), 9:08, 2nd 7-14
FIU - Hilton 58-yard pass from Carroll (Griffin kick), 8:10, 2nd 7-21
FIU - Cyprien 9-yard interception return (Griffin kick), 2:58, 2nd 7-28
ULM - Manton 24-yard field goal, 0:00, 2nd 10-28
ULM - Browning 1-yard run (Manton kick), 9:34, 4th 17-28
ULM Team Notes
-Jyruss Edwards, Ken Dorsey and Luther Ambrose were named permanent team captains by their peers and represented ULM in the opening coin toss.
-ULM won the coin toss and deferred possession until the second half.
-Kolton Browning made his 23rd consecutive start at quarterback. Browning has started every game of his ULM career under center.
-The Warhawks have now forced a punt or a turnover on its first defensive drive in nine of 11 games.
-Browning moved into third place in completions (228) and sixth place in total offense (2,691 yards) in a single season. He also led the Warhawks in rushing for the 9th time in his career, a ULM record among quarterbacks.
-With his 101 yards rushing, Browning became the first ULM quarterback to surpass the 100-yard rushing plateau since Kinsmon Lancaster gained 126 yards on the ground Nov. 8, 2008 at Middle Tennessee.
-Ambrose's 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second quarter was the third of his career and the fourth-longest in ULM history. It was the longest return that did not cover 100 yards. Ambrose is the fifth player in Sun Belt Conference history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single season.
-Brent Leonard moved into a tie for third place in single-season receptions (66) after hauling in a team-high six catches for 43 yards. Leonard also crossed the career 100-reception mark and now has 102 grabs at ULM.
-Edwards set a career-high with 48 receiving yards on five receptions.
-ULM has now held an opponent under its rushing yardage average in 25-of-35 games under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett. FIU was held to 115 yards on the ground after entering the game with a 151.9 team average.
-The 59 team pass attempts were tied for the most by the Warhawks in the Todd Berry Era. ULM logged 59 attempts against Western Kentucky earlier this season (Oct. 29).
-Linebacker Jason Edwards recorded his sixth double-digit tackle performance of his senior season. Edwards' 11 stops also marked the sixth game this season he has led the Warhawks in total tackles.
ULM Head Coach Todd Berry
At this point I'm really disappointed for our seniors, which I think has been a very special class. We didn't play well and that's my responsibility, but the bottom line is we didn't play well. Defensively we didn't handle our assignments, in the first half in particular. While everyone knew their assignments, they couldn't execute them. (FIU) has a nice offensive football team and they took advantage, which all good offensive football teams do when you give them something, they take advantage. We didn't cover people we were supposed to cover or keep contain. Offensively, we could not separate from their man-coverage. They beat us up at wide receiver; they beat us up on the offensive line. They completely dominated the line of scrimmage. It wasn't missed assignments, but we have to get in the weight room and we've got to get bigger and stronger. The ways that we did get loose involved a lot of moving parts and sometimes we didn't function as well. The quarterback (Kolton Browning), as soon as he caught the ball he was running for his life, and when the other parts were moving around it became disjointed. It was just a really bad offensive performance all around.
How the defensive pressure impacted the execution of the offense
They weren't blitzing, they just had a four-man rush and we weren't blocking. It was a man-under scheme where they had two safeties deep early in the game. Obviously we made changes but we couldn't release at the line of scrimmage with the receivers. We prepared for it all week, too, but they were much better than what we were physically.
On Quarterback Kolton Browning as the leading rusher
The lack of a traditional run game came from the fact that when we snapped the football they were hitting us four yards in the backfield. That makes no sense. So all of a sudden, you have 2nd-and-14. Every time we tried to run the ball the conventional way they were in the backfield. We got physically abused up front.
Senior Safety Nate Brown
It's obviously emotional. You always want to win, and on Senior Day you want to go out with a bang. FIU, that was a good team, you have to give it to them. We knew coming in they had athletes all over the field, but we just didn't execute on defense. There's not much else you can say.
Senior Wide Receiver Luther Ambrose
The first thing (for building a program) is attitude. The attitude changed everywhere, and it's not just the seniors. You can see younger guys with a positive attitude. It's the full team, not just the seniors that can step up and lay the foundation.
FIU Head coach Mark Cristobal:
Defense in the first half pretty much sat on them:
A lot of three and outs. A pick six. He got used to us in the second half and there's a feast or famine approach to taking on a quarterback like that when you're being bringing pressure. We had our moments where we got him on the ground, but he's a real good football player and just the defense and offense overall, he probably put them on par. We definitely put them in situations we shouldn't have the second half. Too many three and outs. Especially when you let them drive the length of the field. They're tough, resilient, and found a way to make a play there at the end.
Defensively what did you do to snuff ULM out:
The number one things we did was stop the run. That was the first and foremost, we stopped the run. We were running the ball well too which really helped us trying to control the clock., Especially in the first quarter. I think they only had two possessions in the first quarter, and no more than a minute, a couple of three and outs.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton:
First receiving touchdown since Arkansas State:
We felt good coming out. The way they played gave me leverage and I took it inside and just used the sweep and did the rest.
How did it feel to close out as a team at the end:
Yeah, we felt pretty good closing out knowing the defense could hold. But offensively we stalled a little bit, and we need to start producing more and stop putting pressure on the defense. But you know it's championship football and the defense came through.
Quarterback Wesley Carroll:
Was it surprising or odd to suddenly enter the game:
No, I mean, I've been around football long enough to know that it's any given play. You've got to be ready. If you're back-up, you're one play away. If you're third string, you're two plays away. That's just football. I'm a fifth year senior, I've seen it all. I felt like I was mentally prepared at any point to go in the game. The guys responded obviously. It was a familiar feeling. We've done it a few games before.
Have you ever been put in that situation before:
Actually, yeah, at Auburn my freshman year. Our quarterback hurt his hand on the first drive, and from there that's when I took over. He got hurt the first drive and I started every game since, really. That was my freshman year at Mississippi State. So yeah, I know what it's like, my first big action was at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
(Report courtesy ulmwarhawks.com)