Terry Bowden, ULM Warhawks football upset Liberty Flames on late 53-yard field goal
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, but ULM scored 28 straight points in third quarter, and Calum Sutherland hit a 53-yard field goal with 1:44 to go as the Warhawks upset the Flames as 31-28 Saturday night at Malone Stadium.
ULM (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak. Liberty (5-2) saw its two-game winning streak end.
Down 14-0 at halftime, the Warhawks went up 28-14 after Chandler Rogers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Andrew Henry, fullback Abraham Alce ran in from 1 yard out one play after Josh Newton picked off Willis, Henry broke off a 40-yard touchdown run and Rogers hit tight end Zach Rasmussen with a 14-yard TD throw before the third quarter was done.
Liberty cut the deficit to 28-21 on a 7-yard Shedro Louis touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, then tied it behind a 53-yard Willis run with 7:49 to go.
ULM cornerback Mark Williams intercepted Willis to seal it for the Warhawks.
Willis ran in from 3 yards out to help give the Flames a 7-0 lead with 5:11 left before halftime. One possession later, with 16 seconds left prior to the break, he scrambled out of trouble and threw a 9-yard TD pass to CJ Daniels.
Miscues haunt both teams
Mistakes almost proved costly to a young ULM team in its first season under Terry Bowden, the former Auburn coach.
Just when Tre Odom’s second-quarter interception of Willis near the 1 for ULM looked like it was going to get the Warhawks out of trouble, it was answered by Daijahn Anthony’s interception of Rogers. Willis scored four plays later.
Rogers, who began his career at Southern Miss in 2019 and is in his first season at ULM, was making his third straight start with Rhett Rodriguez out due to a punctured lung.
Liberty had its share of mistakes too, including three interceptions thrown by Willis. who had been picked off just three times in six games prior to Saturday.
Malik Willis sure can run
ULM’s defense had a hard time keeping track of Willis.
Willis looked to throw deep on Liberty’s first play, but he took off for an 8-yard gain instead. When he decided to take off out of the pocket, he frequently had huge holes up the middle.
The former Auburn QB also displayed quite a knack for reversing field when trying to scramble out of trouble and also displayed a strong arm, showing why he is a highly rated 2022 NFL Draft prospect.
Willis threw for 111 yards and rushed 11 times for 74 yards in the first half alone. He ended up with 157 rushing yards, but finished only 16-of-28 for 135 yards and was intercepted three times.
ULM defense can make stops
After Skyler Thomas returned a blocked first-quarter field goal try 73 yards to the 2, the Warhawks came up with four straight stops, three of them for no gain.
Nose guard Caleb Thomas was in on two of the stops as Liberty unsuccessfully tried attacking the gut of ULM’s defense.
Ex-ULM star Harding plays for Liberty
Rashaad Harding was a standout for three seasons at ULM, registering 132 career tackles.
But the former Warhawks linebacker sat out last season, then transferred to Liberty. After starting the night with 15 total tackles on the season, Harding had eight tackles including 2.5 sacks just in the first half, and finished with 15 total tackles.