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October 3, 2013MONROE, La.- ULM trailed by just four at halftime, but Western Kentucky pitched a shutout in the second half and scored 17 unanswered points as the Warhawks fell, 31-10, in their Sun Belt opener at Malone Stadium on Thursday evening.
In Brayle Brown's first collegiate start, the sophomore went 21-of-40 for 275 yards. He had a fantastic completion to Kenzee Jackson in the first quarter, a 69-yard beauty that was the longest pass and longest reception for each player.
Jyruss Edwards and Centarius Donald led a two-headed rushing attack for the Warhawks. Edwards racked up 57 yards and the lone touchdown of the night on 14 carries, while Donald posted 54 yards on nine carries of his own.
For WKU, Brandon Doughty completed his first nine passes of the night and finished 24-of-36 for 370 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception that was picked off by Mitch Lane.
The Hilltoppers' do-everything man Antonio Andrews finished with 202 all-purpose yards, with 155 on the ground, 22 through the air and another 25 on a punt return. He also added one rushing touchdown to his line as well.
WKU won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, driving down the field to take an early 7-0 lead. Doughty led the way with his arm, completing all three of his passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Andrews also picked up 22 yards on just three carries on the ground. The six-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a long pass from Doughty to Willie McNeal from 33 yards out. Garrett Schwettman's extra point gave the Hilltoppers the seven-point advantage just three minutes into the game.
Following a turnover on downs by ULM, the Hilltoppers went back to work at their own 29-yard line. Doughty again provided the offensive fireworks, hitting Nicholas Norris for a 21-yard gain, the longest play of the drive, as well as the 17-yard score to Leon Allen. Doughty ended the drive 8-of-8 for 118 yards and two scores following his first two series.
The Warhawks struck back on their third drive of the night. Keyed by the team's longest play of the season, a 69-yard catch-and-run from Brown to Jackson, ULM broke into the red zone for the first time. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on WKU brought them down to the 7-yard line, and Edwards used two rushes to punch the ball in from there. Justin Manton's point after cut the lead to just one score for WKU.
The lead continued to shrink for WKU as the Warhawks worked into an offensive groove early in the second quarter. Backed up on his own 1-yard line to begin the drive, Brown got the squad out of trouble with a 23-yard pass to Harley Scioneaux on the first play, the longest reception of the tight end's career. From there, Donald led a ground-and-pound attack, rushing six times for 54 yards, including a 28-yarder that was his longest since the 2011 season. The drive stalled at WKU's 16, but Manton converted a 34-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
ULM made a crucial defensive stop on the final play of the second half. Needing just one yard for a touchdown, the defense swarmed and stuffed Andrews at the line of scrimmage, preventing the Hilltoppers from taking a two-score lead into the halftime break.
Unfortunately, the Warhawks could not replicate that goal line stand on WKU's first possession of the second half. Set up by a deep 45-yard pass from Doughty to Taywan Taylor, Andrews was able to punch the ball in from six yards out to make the score 21-10 in favor of the Hilltoppers.
Just four minutes later, Schwettman connected on a short 22-yard field goal despite starting with good field position. Andrews nearly gained the first down, but fell two yards short of the line after being brought down by Cordero Smith.
Allen added a late rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Hilltoppers to reach the final score of 31-10.
ULM will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 12, as they travel to San Marcos, Texas, to take on Sun Belt newcomer Texas State. The matchup will be televised on the Longhorn Network.