Wright, defense shine for ULM in spring game

Jonah Bostick, Sports Editor

In the finale of Super Warhawk Weekend, fans got a glimpse of the 2023 football season. 

The spring training period came to an end Saturday night when ULM football hosted its annual spring game. 

One of the key storylines heading into the game was the performance of quarterback Jiya Wright. Wright has spent his college career at ULM as a backup. Last season, he backed up Chandler Rogers after losing the last-minute quarterback battle. 

Wright himself did not disappoint. He started rough with a first-play interception on a miscommunication, but he settled in his second appearance. Wright went 6 for 13 with 115 yards passing, throwing two touchdowns and being sacked only once. 

“We kind of ironed things out as the scrimmage went on,” Wright said. “We had a lot of big plays, and the offense started rolling.”

Hunter Herring also had some playing time. Herring completed three passes on nine attempts for 20 yards. 

“Herring is still learning what to do with our system,” head coach Terry Bowden said. “I thought he had some good plays tonight.”

The highlight play of the night was a 49-yard touchdown pass from Wright to Justin Kimber, who caught the ball with one hand. Kimber went on to produce three receptions for 66 yards. 

“Justin made a great catch on that,” Wright said. “That’s a big part of our offense.”

Despite the big plays made by the offense, it was the defense who shined the most. Outside of the two scoring drives led by Wright, the defense held still with 204 total yards allowed on 58 plays. 

“I think defensively we’ve got some guys that are playing a notch above,” Bowden said. “We’re really pleased with the way the defense has played.” 

Defensive backs Ra’shad Onezime and Lu Tillery nabbed two interceptions. Defensive end Joseph Bakhole made 3.5 total tackles and two sacks for a loss of 23 yards in total. 

The new-look running offense for the Warhawks was also showcased Saturday evening. Charlie Norman assumed the starting role in the game with six carries for 27 yards. Hunter Smith only carried the ball twice but produced 19 yards for 9.5 yards per carry.

“Smith has probably had the best spring,” Bowden said. “He’s not a big [running] back, but he’s a back that can run big.”

The spring game will be the last action the players will see until the summer training period begins. 

“The spring game is almost anticlimactic because of the eight-play drives,” Bowden said. “There’s only so much you can see because you have to stop.” 

With players like Tyrone Howell returning, a strong defense and stability at quarterback, the Warhawks will try to improve upon their 2022 campaign. They went 4-8 and missed out on a bowl game for the 10th season in a row.

ULM opens the season by hosting Army on Saturday, Sept. 2, with the new field turf which will be placed before the season begins. The turf will feature the new logo and a lighted playing surface.