I wasn’t really sure what to expect on the field tonight in Hattiesburg. ULM barely escaped with a win against Southeast Louisiana last week in large part because the defense struggled to get off the field.
Jack Abraham looked like what I expected, a big-armed quarterback who made the losses of Kwadra Griggs and Keon Howard mere footnotes, but it was against FCS Jackson State.
What would happen this week when ULM faced a better team, and USM face a better team but possibly a similarly bad defense?
Warhawks QB Caleb Evans ripped off two passes of 30+ yards including a 49-yard touchdown one play after ULM intercepted an Abraham overthrow, but it was necessary after Abraham tossed a 75-yard touchdown on the Golden Eagles’ first play and tacked on two more 20+ yard pass plays during the half.
ULM trailed 17-14 at halftime, but the defense was making plays. There were occasional lapses in coverage, but they largely kept Abraham and his receivers in check, thanks in part to some excellent pressure up front.
The Warhawks opened the second half with a big run to set up a touchdown drive, and Southern Miss responded with a field goal to make it 21-20 a little more than halfway through the third quarter. It looked like we were well on our way for my 34-31 pregame prediction… and then everything ground to a screeching halt.
From that point onward, the two teams combined to run 22 plays for 53 yards.
- Southern Miss got to the edge of field goal range and failed on fourth and one.
- ULM got into field goal range and pushed it left.
- Southern Miss got there again and pushed another field goal wide left.
Suddenly we were in a war of attrition and only six minutes remained. The Warhawks took over and drove across midfield, converted a fourth down but had to give the ball back with a minute and a half left.
Abraham and the Golden Eagles had 87 seconds and three timeouts to make some magic happen… and made a mess of things. They crossed midfield, ran a draw for some odd reason, and then an ill-advised pass across the middle was intercepted to seal the deal for the Warhawks.
Southern Miss’ offense can produce, but they really struggled against what isn’t remotely close to the best pass rush they’ll see this season. The Warhawks once again struggled to connect the dots, but did just enough to pull out a victory. They’ve got work to do, but they’re 2-0 and those wins are on the board for good.