Quarterback Kolton Browing completed a stellar performance of almost 500 yards total offense with a 16-yard touchdown run in overtime as Louisiana-Monroe upset heavily favored and No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The Warhawks (1-0) outscored the Razorbacks (1-1) 27-10 after halftime and the less-than-capacity crowd of 53,089 booed head coach John L. Smith and his team off the field at the end of the game.
"To be honest with you, they outplayed us, they outcoached us and they deserve the credit," Smith said. "We couldn't get them down, we couldn't get them off the field. It was just not good."
Arkansas starting quarterback Tyler Wilson did not return for the second half due to what was the Razorback would only described officially as "an injury above the shoulders."
Wilson was 11-of-20 passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns before exiting a game in which the Razorbacks had just 32 yards over their last six possessions.
He was replaced by redshirt freshmen Brandon Allen, who was just 6-of-20 passing for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Brandon Mitchell, who has been playing wide receiver, will be back in the mix at quarterback next week when Arkansas hosts No. 1 Alabama in Fayetteville.
"We have to pull together," Smith said. "We all contributed to this loss. I don't want to see any finger pointing, which is naturally what you get after a loss. That is an easy thing to do; that is what losers do. They point fingers. So hopefully we have no losers.
"I hope they wrap their arms around each other and come to work, get better and get ready for Alabama," Smith added. "ULM came in here to beat us, there is no reason for us not to get ready to beat Alabama."
Cornerback Tevin Mitchel – another "injury above the shoulders - and fullback Kody Walker (leg injury) were both carted off field in the second half.
"I'd like to start off by saying we got a report on Tevin Mitchel and he is moving and responsible," Smith said. "The prognosis I think is going to be good. We think God he is okay, which is the most important thing about tonight."
Browning was brilliant as he was 42-of-67 passing for 412 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
He also rushed forward for 100 yards, but ended with 69 when factoring in sacks.
Browing led an ULM offense that outgained Arkansas 550-377 in total offense – including a 297-108 margin after intermission.
"We couldn't get him down, we couldn't tackle him, he was just a great player for them," Smith said. "He got out of trouble, completed tons of balls – and I don't know how many of them were on third downs and fourth down. I don't know how many opportunities we had (to tackle him), but that kid just made great plays and he makes a great play at the end to win the darn thing."
It was the Warhawks' second win over an SEC team with the other being a win at Alabama five years ago and obviously left head coach Todd Berry very pleased.
"I'm really excited for our football team," Berry said. "They put in just a tremendous amount of work. There certainly was a lot of people that doubted us. This team had a chance to grow and mature, and they did together. This group has strong character."
Berry, whose team trailed 21-7 at halftime, 28-7 early in the third quarter and 28-14 entering the fourth quarter, said he knew his team could pull out a win.
"I thought we had a chance to win coming into this game," Berry said. "I had a lot of faith. But that doesn't guarantee anything. Arkansas is very, very good team. They have some special talent and they have a great coaching staff…They certainly have rallied around each other and overcome significant difficulties."
Arkansas players such as linebacker Tenarius Wright (team-high 11 tackles) were as shocked as their fans.
"I am shocked and I am mad at the same time," Wright said. "I don't want to show anger. I want to be strong for my team and our team has to come together and stay together as a family and get ready for next week."
Tailback Knile Davis (16 carries, 62 yards, one TD) tried to point out that the team's main goal of an SEC championship was still in reach despite the embarrassing loss.
"That is still attainable," Davis said. "We haven't played those games yet. Any game we can win or lose. Yes, it is still attainable."
Arkansas coaches seemingly went away from a rushing game that had accumulated 96 of its 138 yards in the first three quarters.
The Razorbacks passed the ball on 12 of their last 13 snaps of the game and 14 of its last 16.
The last carry was a 19-yard carry by Davis on Arkansas' last possession of regulation.
It ended with an Allen – who misfired on his last six passes – throwing a pass that went through Cobi Hamilton's hands and into the waiting arms of DaCorris Ford.
Arkansas had five incomplete passes in overtime – although an interference call did set up Zach Hocker's 37-yard field goal that gave the Razorbacks a 31-28 lead.
Browning, whose 23-yard pass to Brent Leonard on fourth and 10 and ensuing PAT tied the game with 47 seconds left in regulation, then won the game on fourth down in overtime.
He dropped back on fourth and one with at the Arkansas 16, escaped some pressure and raced away from defenders for the game-winning score.
"Our will to win is very strong, especially because we had a lot to prove," Berry said. "This team had a chip on its shoulder since last year. Obviously I couldn't be prouder of a group of kids."
Browning's four-yard touchdown pass to Centrius Donald opened the scoring with 9:19 left in the first quarter.
Wilson answered that with his 20-yard scoring strike to junior Julian Horton, who made his career touchdown catch.
Wilson then hit Hamilton on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 11:08 in the second quarter and Davis' 3-yard run and Hocker's PAT at the 2:25 mark pushed it to 21-7.
The Razorbacks went up 28-7 with 9:42 left in the third quarter when Allen hooked up with freshman MeKale McKay on a 13-yard touchdown pass that was the first career one for both.
It was all ULM from that point on.
"We have to do a better job," Smith said. "We have to pull together. We have to use this week and not divide, but rally together and become a better football team. Hopefully we can get some of those injured guys back.
Cobi Hamilton hauls in a long pass against ULM.
Knile Davis rolls around right end on a 3-yard TD run.
MeKale McKay hauls in 61-yard pass.
Tyler Wilson completed 11 of 20 passes in the first half, but did not play after intermission.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated