Warhawks’ defense delivers win over Troy

Kevin Wade and Cameron Jett

The ULM Warhawks (2-1) left their Sun Belt opener with an upset victory over Troy (2-2) on Saturday night 29-16.  The Warhawks stayed out front for the whole game after taking the initial lead.

ULM entered the game as 24-point underdogs.

The ferocious Warhawks defense came up with two scores in the second half. ULM defensive end Ty Shelby recorded a safety and linebacker Ja’Cquez Williams returned a 96-yard pick six. Outside of scoring, the defense held Troy to 5-of-15 on third down conversion. Troy came into Monroe averaging a 48% conversion rate on third down.

“Each week the defense keeps impressing me the way they play,” head coach Terry Bowden said.  “It was kind of sealing the deal, [Williams’ inteception] was the MVP play of the game.”

Offensively, ULM used the talents of Rodriguez and freshman QB Caleb Rogers to exploit opposing defenses.  Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez puts in Rogers primarily as an option QB in a run heavy offense and plays his son as a game manager who can take the deep shot. 

“We’re all just playing our part and waiting for our names to be called upon,” said Rodriguez. 

Sunil Bishwokarma

On the opening drive of the game Rodriguez came out with a hot hand throwing a 31-yard pass to wide receiver Zach Jackson. Then he followed following with a 23-yard touchdown connection to get the Warhawks on the board early. With Rogers coming in during the second, he tossed a 37-yard pass to Sparks before settling the for a 26-yard field goal by Sun Belt special teams player of the week Calum Sutherland. 

The Warhawks marched down the field late in the second quarter but made a costly turnover which resulted in the Trojans getting on the board with a 32-yard field goal. Rogers fumbled the ball on a bad snap for ULM’s first turnover of the season. 

Running back Andrew Henry established himself as a key playmaker against the Trojans. Henry finished the night with 108 yards rushing on 19 carries. On the opening drive of the second half, Henry found the end zone on a fourth and one play as he rushed untouched for the 40-yard touchdown. He had the first 100-yard rushing game for ULM since Josh Johnson in 2019.

After the touchdown score the Trojans answered right back with their own 49- yard touchdown from Powell to Whitemore which cut the lead to 17-10, but the Warhawks defense rose up. The Warhawks held the Trojans to four straight possession without putting any points on the board.  The stifling Warhawks defense held the Trojans to only 67 rushing yards, with the Warhawks putting up over 100-yards rushing. 

Troy reached the end zone for touchdown late in the fourth quarter but ULM denied their onside kick attempt and ended any chance at a comeback. 

ULM’s early season revival will be tested Saturday in their trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to face Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are undefeated on the season and average 45 points per game. 

Last Saturday the #17 Chanticleers dismantled the University of Massachusetts 53-3.