MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Behind 500 total yards and an impressive defensive performance, ULM (3-2, 1-0) was able to control Middle Tennessee (3-2, 1-1), 31-17, for the duration of the game inside Floyd Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Jyruss Edwards was a workhorse all day lone and finished with 87 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns to tie for fourth all-time in program history with 21 rushing touchdowns. Kolton Browning turned in another solid game as he threw for 285 yards on 26-for-38 with one touchdown and one interception.
The ULM defense was the story as it allowed just 69 rushing yards and 307 total yards and forced three turnovers when the Blue Raiders were threatening to score. The ULM offensive line took over in the fourth quarter and dominated the line of scrimmage allowing the offense to run out the clock and seal the Sun Belt opening victory.
An early tipped pass from Browning led to an interception and an MTSU 44-yard field goal from Carlos Lopez, a career long, to give the Blue Raiders a 3-0 lead with 8:36 left in the opening quarter.
ULM answered with an impressive eight-play drive including a 22-yard scamper from Centarius Donald was capped off with a 16-yard touchdown carry from Edwards. The score gave the Warhawks a 7-3 lead with 5:09 left the in the first quarter.
A promising-looking drive for MTSU was halted by a fumble, forced and recovered by R.J. Young. The ensuing drive was fruitful for the Warhawks as Justin Manton collected his first field goal of the season with a successful 32-yard field goal giving ULM a 10-3 lead with 11: 42 remaining the second quarter.
Hamm broke free in the back of the endzone and Browning found him a for a three-yard touchdown pass, to extend ULM's advantage to 17-3 with 3:40 left in the half. The scoring drive lasted 5:27 and gained 90 yards on 14 plays.
At halftime, ULM held onto a 17-3 lead behind 306 total yards and 14 first downs. MTSU was held to just 127 total yards and seven first downs. Both teams struggled with penalties as ULM was penalized four times for 35 yards and MTSU seven times for 48 yards.
The Warhawks opened the second half with a methodical, 10-play 75-yard drive to extend its lead with a five-yard touchdown run to 24-3 with 10:33 left in the third quarter.
The Blue Raiders pieced together its best drive of the day and capped the five-play, 54-yard drive with an eight-yard rushing touchdown from Benny Cunningham. The score cut ULM's lead to 24-10 with 5:29 left in the third quarter.
Following a Rob'Donovan Lewis fumble recovery forced by Cordero Smith, ULM made its opponent pay with a scoring drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Donald. After the score, ULM led 31-10 with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
MTSU answered with a Cunningham one-yard rushing touchdown to finish off a seven-play, 63-yard drive. With 14:31 remaining in the contest, ULM still led 31-17.
Isaiah Newsome came up with a huge interception of a Kilgore pass in the endzone to stop a threatening Blue Raider drive.
ULM returns to Malone Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13 for a 7:06 p.m. kickoff with Florida Atlantic. The Warhawks will be inducting the 1987 National Champion football team into its Athletic Hall of Fame that night.
MTSU - 44-yard field goal from C. Lopez, 5-6-1:56, MTSU 3-0
ULM - 16-yard run from J. Edwards (J. Manton XP), 8-71-3:37 ULM 7-3
ULM - 32-yard field goal from J. Manton 11-57-4:57 ULM 10-3
ULM - 3-yard reception by J. Hamm from K. Browning (J. Manton XP) 14-90-5:27 ULM 17-3
ULM - 5-yard run by J. Edwards (J. Manton XP) 10-75-4:27 ULM 24-3
MT - 7-yard run from B. Cunningham (C. Lopez XP) 5-54-1:28 ULM 24-10
ULM - 1-yard run from C. Donald (J. Manton XP) 7-35-2:08 ULM 31-10
MT - 1-yard run from B. Cunningham (C. Lopez XP) 7-63-1:33 ULM 31-17