Ruin in the Rock
LITTLE ROCK – The University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks came to the Arkansas Razorbacks’ second home of War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and upset the No. 8-ranked team in the nation 34-31 in overtime. The Razorbacks led 21-7 at the half and 28-7 early in the third quarter before allowing the Warhawks and quarterback Kolton Browning to come back for the win in front of 53,089 fans.
After Zach Hocker kicked a 37-yard field goal in the first round of overtime to give the Razorbacks a 31-28 lead, Warhawks Browning ran 16 yards on fourth-and-1 for the game-winning touchdown to give the Warhawks the victory. Browning was the player of the game passing for 412 yards on 42 of 67 passes with three touchdowns.
“We couldn’t get them off the field,” Arkansas Coach John L. Smith said after the game. “That No. 15, they’re quarterback did a great job. He made play after play after play. We couldn’t tackle him, we couldn’t stop him.”
Browning also led the Warhawks with 69 rushing yards and a TD.
The Razorbacks (1-1) took a hit when starting quarterback Tyler Wilson, who passed for 196 yards and two TDs in the first half, didn’t play in the second half due to an above-the-shoulder injury, most likely to his head or neck.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Smith said. “We don’t have a doctor’s prognosis on him yet.”
The story of the game was the fact that the Razorbacks couldn’t stop the Warhawks allowing them to score 21 consecutive points to tie it in regulation and then the touchdown in overtime.
After Arkansas went three-and-out for the second straight series, the Warhawks took over at their own 10-yard line for the game-tying drive. Browning completed four consecutive passes to get the Arkansas 35-yard line. ULM had a fourth-and-10 with under a minute to go in the game and Browning hit his favorite target of the night Brent Leonard at the 2-yard line, where he wrestled with an Arkansas defender and fell into the end zone to tie the game at 28-apiece with 47 seconds left in the game. ULM was successful 6 out of 7 times on fourth down in the game.
“I have to give ULM a lot of credit,” Smith said. “They did a great job, their kids played hard. They outplayed us, they outcoached us and they won the game.”
When Wilson didn’t return in the second half, the Hogs fell to the leadership of backup quarterback Brandon Allen, and though he got off to a solid start, including throwing a 13-yard pass to freshman receiver Mekale McKay to put Arkansas up by 21, he finished just 6 for 20 for 85 yards and an interception.
“Very tough situation,” Smith said of Allen coming in the second half, “very, very tough. I think it’s unfair to pass judgment on him at this time. It was not any one person. We all contributed [to the loss]. Every one of us as coaches as well. It’s our job to pull them together and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We all contributed to the loss and I don’t want to see any of this (pointing fingers) or this, which is naturally what you get because that’s the easy thing to do and that’s what losers do is they point fingers. Hopefully we have no losers.”
The loss to the Sun Belt Conference Warhawks puts a definite damper on a promising season. With expectations of a championship season, a loss to a lower-caliber conference team will likely end hopes of a BCS Championship. And now the Razorbacks have the No. 1 team in the nation Alabama Crimson Tide in Fayetteville next week.
“Those guys (ULM) come in here and beat us,” Smith said. “There’s no reason why we can’t beat Alabama.”
Smith went on to explain that a loss against any team, not just a lower-caliber conference team, isn’t easy to stomach.
“Any loss is devastating,” he said. “We still have league in front of us so it’s not more devastating than I guess any loss. They’re all devastating. We don’t have a league loss yet, so that’s a positive.”
The Warhawks outgained the Razorbacks 550 to 377 in total yardage, with ULM holding a 138 to 96 yardage edge on the ground.
Leonard finished with 11 catches for 112 yards and a TD for ULM, and for Arkansas, Chris Gragg had 7 catches for 83 yards, Cobi Hamilton had 6 for 99 and a TD, but also dropped key passes, and McKay had 2 for 74 and a TD. Davis led the Hogs in rushing with 62 yards on 16 carries and a TD.
“Fans here are awesome,” Smith said of Arkansas fans. “They’re great. The fans are as good as there are in the country. It’s very disappointing that we let them down. Not only ourselves, the team, but the fans.
“We have to do a better job. We have to pull together. We have to use this week and not divide, and rally together, pull together, and become a better football team. Hopefully we can get some of those injured guys back.”
Cornerback Tevin Mitchel and full back Kody Walker were both carted off the field with injuries. “He’s moving,” Smith said of Mitchel. “Everything is good there. He’s OK which is the most important thing about tonight.”
It didn’t start off well for the Razorbacks as they went three-and-out their first possession gaining just 1 yard before Tyler Wilson threw an interception to Vincent Eddie at the Warhawks’ 33-yard line.
ULM grinded it out the next possession and crossed the Hogs’ 50-yard line when Browning hit Leonard for a 10-yard pass to Arkansas’ 48. Browning would finish the drive 3 of 3 for 34 yards capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Centarius Donald to give the Warhawks a 7-0 lead at the 9:19 mark of the first quarter.
The Hogs would respond quickly, though, as Dennis Johnson began the drive with an 11-yard run. Johnson would run for another first down three plays later with a 12-yard run, but Wilson overthrew a wide-open Brandon Mitchell down the middle of the field. Wilson threw an incomplete pass to Cobi Hamilton, which it looked like the Warhawk defender interfered with Hamilton before the ball got there, but nothing was called. The duo made up for it when on third-and-10, Wilson hit Hamilton for a 16-yard reception to put Arkansas at the 21-yard line. Two plays later, Wilson hit junior Julian Horton in the back of the end zone for a 20-yard TD to tie it up at 7-7.
Three consecutive punts led to the Hogs having the ball at their own 20-yard line mid second quarter and after Wilson looked inconsistent during his first several drives, he looked like a man possessed on the Razorbacks’ fourth drive. Wilson opened the series with a 5-yard pass to freshman fullback Kody Walker and then hit Gragg three consecutive times for a total of 21 yards to get to the 50.
Two consecutive runs made it third-and-one and the Hogs were looking long. Hamilton sprinted past the ULM defender on the right side of the field and caught Wilson’s pass in stride for a 39-yard TD reception to make it a 14-7 Arkansas lead with 11:08 left in the half.
After previously passing 4 for 10 for 54 yards and a TD, Wilson was 5 of 5 on the last drive for 70 yards and a TD.
Another three consecutive punts gave the Hogs the ball at the 13-yard line in the second quarter. On the second play of the series, Wilson found a wide-open Mekale McKay on the right side. Wilson led McKay just enough where he stumbled a bit after catching the ball, which allowed the defender to tackle him 61 yards later.
A pass interference and offsides call on the Warhawks put the ball at the ULM 3-yard line, where Davis took it to pay dirt running to the right side to give Arkansas a 14-point lead with 2:25 left in the second quarter. The half would end with Arkansas up 21-7.
Wilson threw for 196 yards on 11 of 20 passing with two TDs and an interception in the first half. Johnson led the Hogs’ running with 42 yards on 5 carries and Davis added 27 yards on 9 carries with a TD. Hamilton led the receivers with 4 cathes for 71 yards and a TD.
Browning was efficient for the Warhawks completing 18 of 24 passes, including 6 for 42 to Leonard, for 167 yards and a TD.
The Warhawks were on the move to begin the second half. Starting at its own 25-yard line, ULM drove to the 41-yard line when Browning hit Tarvarese Maye for 19 yards. Ross Rasner was called for pass interference the next play to put the Warhawks at the Hogs 25-yard line. ULM would get to the 11 before Rasner made up for the penalty by picking off Browning at the 1-yard line and returning it 33 yards to the Hogs’ 34.
With Wilson hurt, Brandon Allen fumbled the snap for a 4-yard loss to begin his night, but hit Hamilton for 17 yards and a first down on the next play. Five plays later, Allen was forced out of the pocket, but found Gragg on the run on the left side for 30 yards and a first down at the ULM 17-yard line. Dennis Johnson ran 4 yards before Allen hit McKay on a 13-yard fade pass for the TD to go up by 21 points at the 9:42 mark of the third quarter.
But the Warhawks would not be held down. ULM was successful on a fourth-and-10 when Browning ran up the middle on a delay and gained 19 yards to the Razorback 26. Arkansas incurred a 5-yard penalty for having too many men on the field and Browning hit fullback Mitchell Bailey with a pass for 18 yards to the Razorback 3, where running back Jyruss Edwards went up the middle untouched for a TD the next play to get within 14 points with 5:41 left in the third.
The Razorbacks went three-and-out their next series and the Warhawks took over at the Arkansas 39-yard line. On fourth-and-11, Browning was all but sacked by an Arkansas defender, but got away and completed a 13-yard pass to Tavarese Maye for the first down and get to the Hogs’ 27-yard line. Browning would hit Keavon Milton three plays later for a 10-yard pass and an offsides penalty on the Hogs’ DeQuinta Jones put them at the 5-yard line. Four plays later on another fourth down, Browning would hit Kevin Steed with a 1-yard TD pass to make it a 28-21 ballgame.