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October 31, 2012

Warhawk Inside Slant

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Senior wide receiver Brent Leonard has been somewhat of a non-factor for ULM in recent outings, but he came up big for the Warhawks in their 38-24 victory over South Alabama. 

After catching just four passes for 50 yards in his previous two games combined, ULM's leading receiver had 126 yards on nine catches, four of them for touchdowns as the Warhawks improved to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Sun Belt Conference with their fourth straight win.  The touchdown receptions tied a school single-game record set by Stepfret Williams at Nevada in 1995. It also gave him seven touchdown catches for the season and 13 in his career.

"It was nice to get Brent back in the game," coach Todd Berry said. "The past couple games he has been a little quiet-not because of him but some of the things we have been seeing from the defensive perspective."

Leonard had touchdown receptions of 3, 15, and 16 yards in the second quarter as the Warhawks overcame a 7-0 first-quarter deficit to lead 21-14 at the intermission.

His 24-yard touchdown reception less than two minutes deep into the fourth quarter gave the Warhawks a bit of a cushion at 35-21.  His efforts were needed because ULM was having some problems keeping the visitors, who were had notched the program's first win over an FBS opponent just a week earlier, at bay.

The Jaguars put together a 93-yard drive in the third quarter to tie the game at 21-21. A 15-yard personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff put the Warhawks in a position where they needed only 50 yards to march for the go-ahead touchdown.

"Defensively, we played well at times," Berry said. "The secondary is still not playing up to what I think they are capable of.  It is something we need to continue to focus on."



WHAT'S AHEAD: ULM plays the second of back-to-back home games when the Warhawks start off November by hosting Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns will be 11 days between games, having lost a Tuesday night affair to Arkansas State in their last outing. The Cajuns are 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. A loss to the Warhawks likely would eliminate them in the conference race.

 At 6-2 ULM is eligible for a bowl game for the third time as a member of the FBS. The Warhawks have reached the six-win level for just the third time since the program moved up from Division I-AA (now FCS) for the 1994 season. One more win will set a record for the Warhawks as an FBS team.

 The five-game winning streak matches ULM's third-longest such period of success and the longest since 1993, its last season as an I-AA independent. The longest winning streak in the program's history is eight games in 1992.

 This is the first time ULM has been 4-0 in the Sun Belt Conference since joining the league in 2001.


Keep An Eye On:   Redshirt freshman NT Gerrand Johnson, who regained his starting position because of the injury to Kentarius Caldwell, had one of his most-productive games with eight tackles to lead the Warhawks in the category. That matched his total for his last four games combined.

Looking Good:   Junior QB Kolton Browning was 23-of-35 passing for 250 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 41 yards on just 10 runs. He had only one interception. "He showed me he's probably the best player in the league," South Alabama coach Joey Jones said. "He's a great player. He makes plays. He's everything I thought he was going to be."

Still Needs Work:   ULM was penalized nine times for 78 yards in the win over South Alabama. That's a season high in number of penalties and second in yardage to the 80 yards that were stepped off against the Warhawks against Middle Tennessee.

Quote To Note:   "The special teams impacted the game dramatically tonight, and that was good to see. That was the first time that our special teams have truly impacted the game."-Coach Todd Berry, on freshman CB Preston Coleman's blocked punt in the final minute of the first half set up a go-ahead touchdown for ULM with six seconds left in the second quarter.




Player Notes:  

 Senior Brent Leonard had nine receptions against South Alabama, his most since an 11-catch effort in the season-opening win at Arkansas. He has a team-leading 51 catches for 549 yards for the season.

 Senior RB Mitchell Bailey recorded his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 32-yard dash in the third quarter.

 Senior LB DaCorris Ford made his team-leading third interception in the fourth quarter.


Roster Report  

 Junior RB Jyruss Edwards left the game with an undisclosed injury. He was taken to the hospital and X-rayed and coach Todd Berry later announced he was out for the remainder of the season. The Warhawks already are without junior RB Centarius Donald because of injury.

 Junior RB Monterrell Washington took over Edwards' primary responsibilities and rushed for 9 yards on 19 carries.

 Senior DB Henry Mitchell started in the "Hawk" position in place of injured redshirt freshman Mitch Lane and was credited with six tackles.

 Sophomore PK Justin Manton hit on all five of his PATs to run his streak to 44 straight overall and 42-of-42 this season.

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