How ULM Warhawks football quarterback Chandler Rogers grew up in upset win over Liberty

Tim Buckley
Monroe News-Star

ULM football got a big early goal-line stand that inspired its defense.

It got a big go-ahead 53-yard field goal from Calum Sutherland with one minute and 44 seconds remaining.

And it got a big, late interception from cornerback Mark Williams to seal its 31-28 upset win of Liberty on Saturday night at Malone Stadium.

But it was the play of inexperienced quarterback Chandler Rogers in a wild third quarter that may have been biggest key of all.

RECOVERING:ULM quarterback Rhett Rodriguez out of hospital and home with dogs

HOSPITAL STAY:ULM QB Rhett Rodriguez relives 'scary' ER, ICU trip

HUNSUCKER:Coach Terry Bowden's secrecy did nothing to help ULM at Kentucky

Down 14-0 at halftime, Rogers – making his third college start in place of the injured Rhett Rodriguez – led the Warhawks (3-3) to 28 straight third-quarter points including his touchdown passes of 12 yards to running back Andrew Henry and 14 to tight end Zach Rasmussen.

Williams was asked if he felt like he was watching Rogers, who was squaring off with first-round NFL Draft prospect Malik Willis, grow up during the comeback.

“I wouldn’t say ‘grow up,’ ” he said, “but I would say he stepped up for the challenge.”

'Nothing like playing experience'

Rogers, however, doesn’t mind saying it at all.

Ever since Rodriguez, a transfer from Arizona who is the son of ULM offensive coordinator  Rich Rodriguez, suffered a punctured lung in a Sept. 25 win over Troy, it’s been all about growth for Rogers.

“There’s nothing like playing experience,” Rogers said. “That’s when you truly learn.

“Every day at practice, Coach (Rodriguez) is definitely on me to make sure my eyes are in the right place, make sure I’m in the right checks, make sure I’m getting everybody lined up, being a leader, also being that role model off the field as well."

“So I’ve definitely grown,” he added, “and definitely feel much more confident.”

Quarterback Chandler Rogers (6) helped lead ULM to Satruday's upset win over Liberty.

Terry Bowden sees it

First-year ULM coach Terry Bowden can sense it too.

Bowden watched Rogers go an efficient 16-of-25 for 225 yards, and – perhaps more importantly – he saw a QB starting to figure out the Warhawks’ system.

“It’s only because he’s starting to understand what each play is,” Bowden said. “He’s only been here since late July, that he signed with us.”

Rogers played in two games for Southern Miss in 2019.

After time at a Texas juco, Blinn College, ULM signed the Texan after seeing him at a Warhawks tryout for former FBS players.

“He’s just kind of learning all these things,” Bowden said. “So he’s going to get better and better.

“Of course Rhett may be back.”

Whenever that is, Bowden should feel much more comfortable knowing he now has a second quarterback who can get the job done.

ULM lost the first two games Rogers started, to Sun Belt Conference opponents Coastal Carolina and Georgia State. But the Warhawks will go into their home game next Saturday (4 p.m.) against South Alabama, feeling much better about their offense in general and their QB in particular.

ULM compiled 365 yards of total offense against heavy favorite Liberty, including 80 rushing on 15 carries from Henry, who had a 40-yard TD run during the third-quarter comeback.

“We’ve got a lot of new people that are here playing offensively, from the offensive line to wide receiver and quarterbacks especially, running backs,” Bowden said. “So every game we should get better, because we’re not just trying to get better after running the same thing for three years, we’re getting better after only running it for six weeks.

“So we expect that.”