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ULM-Kentucky Recap: Warhawks offense sputters after first quarter

Warhawks jump out to early lead but can't sustain in 48-14 loss.

John Sommers II

After a listless effort a week ago in Jonesboro, Pete Thomas and the ULM offense surprised the Kentucky Wildcats early. The fifth-year transfer QB made a handful of perfect passes, including a 10-yard fade to the corner of the endzone to Kenzee Jackson to go up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. His first touchdown went to Ajalen Holley, who caught his fifth receiving touchdown of the year on a 12-yard catch-and-run into the endzone.

But the Warhawks - down five starters to begin the game due to injuries, including RB Centarius Donald - were unable to maintain the high level of play, and Kentucky woke up from a possible hangover after last week's huge win over South Carolina.

Wildcats QB Patrick Towles threw an 83-yard touchdown, then Thomas threw a pick-six off a tipped ball at the line, to give UK a 17-14 with 7:47 left in the second quarter. The game was essentially over then.

Brayle Brown came in to replace Thomas in the third quarter after a few three-and-outs by the Warhawks offense, but the sophomore didn't make much of a difference. He went 2-7 for 20 yards and another pick-six before Thomas came back in (Brown came back in during garbage time).

The Warhawks defense held up well against the run early, but wore down over the course of the game. They kept Jojo Kemp, running out of the Wildcat look that gave USCe fits last week, in check for most of the game. A few penalties and short fields because of bad special teams were the causes of a few Kentucky scores. After the Wildcats realized that passing would be the better way to attack the Warhawks defense (UK came out with a run-heavy gameplan early on), the athletic mismatches became apparent. Towles finished the game 16/28 for 216 yards and 3 TDs.

For the second straight week, the lack of a consistent running game seemed to be the biggest problem for the Warhawks. Without Donald, they had just 77 yards on 40 carries. If your offense is relying on Pete Thomas (20/31 for 167 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) to win you games, your team isn't gonna be any good. He's a solid player who can make the throws, but he's not a playmaker and is very indecisive - the throw on the INT was late, and he was sacked six times today, mostly because he held on to the ball for far too long in the pocket.

The Warhawks (3-3, 2-1) now get a week off to regroup. They will host Texas State (3-2, 1-0) on Oct. 25th. The Bobcats take on Lousiana-Lafayette Tuesday at 8pm EST.