This time there was no fourth-quarter rally for Louisiana-Monroe. After falling behind by four touchdowns through three quarters, the Warhawks, who had come from behind in each of their three victories, went quietly at Middle Tennessee, giving up another score in a 38-10 defeat.
Though quarterback Kolton Browning topped the 200-yard mark passing for a fourth consecutive game, the Warhawks struggled to move the ball. They had only 269 yards total offense and were a net four yards in the role rushing, in part because of sacks, but mostly because of an overall ineptness on the ground.
Tailbacks Jyruss Edwards, Frank Goodin and Centarius Donald combined for only 13 yards on 11 carries. Backup quarterback Zach Rhodes had more than that, 14 yards, on one carry. Browning was sacked six times and threw two interceptions among his 43 passes.
"I think it's a function of everything," coach Todd Berry told the Monroe News-Star. "I think it's a function of us needing to get in the weight room. "I think it's a function of Kolton not knowing where to go with the football sometimes, and I think it's a function of receivers and running backs not running good routes."
The loss dropped the Warhawks to 3-4 this season, 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. They are back home to face defending league champion Troy in their next game, but then have two more road tests at Florida International and LSU.
--With the Warhawks only 3-of-18 in converting third downs, P Aaron Munoz was a busy man at Middle Tennessee. He had 10 punts for a 39.5 average. The Warhawks went for it on fourth down twice, converting once, and kicked a field goal after another third-down failure. They had interception on the two other third-down plays.
--Redshirt freshman QB Kolton Browning passed for 232 yards, his sixth consecutive game with more than 200 yards passing. Browning, who was 25-of-43, is the first Louisiana-Monroe quarterback to do that since Raymond Philyaw in 1995. Robert Cobb had seven consecutive 200-yard games in 1993.
--Louisiana-Monroe's defense had an interception and a fumble recovery, giving the Warhawks 34 turnovers in 19 games under coordinator Trey Reffett. They have come up with a turnover in all but two games under Reffett.
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Luther Ambrose -- A junior, Ambrose had nine receptions, a career high, for 66 yards against Middle Tennessee State. His eight-yard reception in the fourth quarter gave the Warhawks their only touchdown of the game. It was his fourth touchdown reception of the season and the ninth of his career.
KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Keavon Milton -- The sophomore starter came up with his first career interception in the second quarter at Middle Tennessee. He had three tackles and was credited with one quarterback hurry.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's kind of where we are right now. We can't push anybody off the football right now, so we can't run it, so we've kind of got to take our shots, because throwing is the only thing we've got right now." -- Coach Todd Berry, in the Monroe News-Star, after his Warhawks wound up with minus-four yards net rushing at Middle Tennessee.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: QB Kolton Browning was 25-of-43 passing (58.1 percent) for 232 yards and a touchdown despite being harassed and sacked six times. WR Luther Ambrose had nine catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. P Aaron Munoz averaged 39.4 on 10 punts, with four downed inside the Middle Tennessee 20-yard line, against only one touchback.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The ground attack was largely ineffective, even taking into consideration the 39 yards lost on six sacks. The Warhawks grossed only 49 yards and wound up with a net minus-four total. The defense, meanwhile, gave up 244 yards rushing to the Blue Raiders.
--LB Theo Smith, who started his 19th consecutive game, led the Warhawks with eight tackles, including two for losses, one a sack.
--WR Anthony McCall had only two receptions, but they were good for 65 yards, second to WR Luther Ambrose's 66.