Malone sweet home: Defense shines in home opener

Takeaways push ULM past Jackson State at home

Cameron Jett, [email protected]

Warhawks football (1-1) earned a hard-fought victory over Jackson State (2-1) 12-7 in their home opener. Head Coach Terry Bowden’s team scored the first win in his tenure at ULM due to a relentless defense and excellent special teams play. 

This victory ended a 12-game losing streak that stretched over three seasons.

Kicker Calum Sutherland nailed four of six field goal attempts—the most by a Warhawk since 2006.  The defense forced three fumbles to go along with an interception. ULM’s offense controlled the ball well and didn’t commit any turnovers.

“Our offensive guys did well against a defense that was playing in cover one or cover zero almost every play,” Bowden said. 

ULM scored their final field goal with under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Jackson State had one final chance to take the lead. A strong hit by cornerback Adam Spark forced the Tiger’s return man to fumble and the Warhawks recovered. 

Well-placed punts and storming gunners on the return kept Jackson State’s lethal return specialists from fielding the kicks. 

The Tigers lead D1-FCS football in yards per return and already had one touchdown this season. ULM kept the Tigers from returning a single punt.

“We had to play with the mentality that they can’t score again,” linebacker Zack Woodward said. Woodward recorded an interception that set up Sutherland for another field goal.

The first half of play saw two offenses searching for an identity. ULM’s rushing game was nonexistent. Wide receiver Boogie Knight gave the offense a needed spark with a 20-yard reception to set up Sutherland for his first field goal of the game.  

Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders found wide receiver Josh Lainer in the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. ULM trailed going into the half 7-3. 

Coming out of the half, ULM benched QB Rhett Rodriguez in favor of Chandler Rogers. 

Rodriguez had 150 passing yards but was constantly under pressure and he was sacked twice. 

The offense changed with Rogers under center. Rogers only attempted four passes but he fit the adapted game plan. 

Rogers took off on designed runs while running backs Andrew Henry and Kayden Roach helped wear away at the Tigers’ defense. 

ULM’s defensive front forced Sanders to drop back and pass for much of the contest.  

The Tigers were held to 26 rushing yards and the Warhawks sacked Sanders three times.

Malone Stadium was home to a crowd of over 21,000 people on Saturday. The Warhawks will stay home to defend the nest against the Troy Trojans (2-1) next Saturday.