Warhawk Inside Slant

Though bowl eligible when the evening started, ULM may have improved
its postseason fate with its 23-17 overtime victory at Florida International.
The victory gave the Warhawks their eighth win in 12 games, and at 6-2 they are
assured of a share of second place in the final Sun Belt Conference standings.
Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee are both 6-1 and meet in
the final game, meaning one team will get the league title outright and the
other will have a second conference loss.
Louisiana-Lafayette also can finish 6-2 in the Sun Belt with a win over
Florida Atlantic in its finale. The Ragin' Cajuns already have accepted a bid to
the R&L Carriers Bowl Dec. 22 in New Orleans.
Coach Todd Berry said he thought his Warhawks already were in the postseason
based on their 7-4 mark. He acknowledged the 8-4 finish would help, but there is
more to it than that.
"I think the eighth win is big and I think it will help influence some bowl
opportunities," he said. But I think it's a great springboard to next year
because we have this whole football team back, even all the injured guys over
there, who are pretty significant guys for us. We've kind of found a way
to overcome. We didn't always play pretty this year, but we kind of find ways to
make things happen."
That was never more the case than in the win over FIU.
The Warhawks needed just to kneel down one more time to kill the remaining
seconds and secure a one-touchdown win in regulation, but quarterback Kolton
Browning fumbled the snap and FIU recovered with 28 seconds remaining.
On second down from his own 42-yard line, quarterback E.J. Hilliard
found wide receiver open down the right sideline for a 58-yard touchdown
reception to tie it.
In the overtime, ULM made up for its lapse with a big third-down sack, then
blocked FIU's 41-yard field goal attempt. The Warhawks won it by scoring in
three plays on Browning's 15-yard pass to Brent Leonard.
"That's probably the craziest ending in 30 years that I've ever been around,"
said Berry, who actually got a Gatorade bath as the end of regulation neared.
"Just shocking."
WHAT'S AHEAD: ULM has finished its regular season and will now wait to
learn its postseason fate. The Warhawks will have a couple of days of light
workouts for players who have been carrying most of the workload. Finals are the
first week in December.
Coach Todd Berry lived up to his promise. When he arrived at ULM for
the 2010 season, he told players they would have their names on the backs of
their jerseys when they earned their way to a bowl game. With seven wins already
in hand, one more than the required six needed for bowl eligibility, the
Warhawks had their names on their uniform backs for their finale at Florida
The eight victories this season are the most for ULM since it began
competing on the FBS level in 1994. The Warhawks were 9-3 in 1993 in their final
season at the FCS level. The 1992 team won 10 games. The school record is 13
when the Warhawks won the 1987 I-AA championship.
The overtime win at Florida International marked the fourth time the
Warhawks have had to go to extra sessions this season. They won their opener at
Arkansas in overtime and lost at Auburn the next week. More recently, they went
overtime to beat Western Kentucky.
Keep An Eye On: Sophomore P-PK Justin Manton had a busy
evening against Florida International. He punted eight times for a 42.8 average
(long of 56) and was good from 47 yards on his only field goal try. The field
goal came with one second left in the half and gave ULM a 10-7 lead at the
Looking Good: Senior WR Brent Leonard became the first ULM receiver
to go over the 1,000-yard mark in receiving since 2002 with his 98 yards on 13
catches giving him 1,092 for the season. Mack Vincent had 1,198 yards in
receptions in 2002 for the school record.
Still Needs Work: The running game obviously needs work, but there
is little that can be done with it with RBs Jyruss Edwards and Centarius
Donald both out with injuries. The Warhawks netted only nine yards on 27
rushes against Florida International.
Quote To Note: "We've been pretty one-dimensional here for the last
few weeks and we've been OK."-Coach Todd Berry, on the Warhawks' lack of a
running game.
Player Notes:
Junior QB Kolton Browning rushed for his fifth touchdown of the
season on a two-yard draw in the first quarter. With ULM going to a heavy diet
of short passes to make up for its lack of a running game, Browning was 31-of-38
passing for 218 yards.
Senior LB R.J. Young scored on a 36-yard return of a fumble
recovery in the third quarter. It was the fourth touchdown by the defense this
Sophomore LB Ray Stovall recorded his third sack of the
season and had two other tackles-for-loss among his six stops.
Roster Report
Sophomore DE Malcolm Edmond finished the game on the
sideline with his arm in a sling, but coach Todd Berry didn't think the "upper
body" injury would keep him out for long. Edmond finished with three tackles
with two for losses.
Senior WR Brent Leonard boosted his season-reception total to 97
with nine catches. That ranks third in the Sun Belt record book.