One team was undefeated in conference and led by a number of experienced playmakers. The other team was 1-8 and featured 28 freshmen on the 2-deep. It was a Tale of Two Programs in Monroe, Louisiana, and the Warhawks ended up on the chopping block.
For the Warhawks, the misery began early when starting QB Garrett Smith went down in the first quarter. Third-string QB Earnest Carrington, a player who misses two practices a week because of class work, was next man up. And in the third quarter, he seemed to be just what the Warhawks needed, leading ULM to three scores.
But then the Red Wolves woke up.
At times, the Warhawks' sneaky 3-3-4 defense seemed to fluster Fredi Knighten and the Red Wolves offense. ULM did, in fact, keep the Red Wolves running game in check for the majority of the game. However, Todd Berry's inexperienced crew had no answers for the deep ball of Fredi Knighten, who found the sure-handed Tres Houston in the end zone three times in the second quarter alone.
Bottled up at the line of scrimmage, Knighten dialed up deep passes to Houston, Chris Murray and Dijon Paschal that led to big scores. By the end of the half, Knighten had 253 yards, 4 TDs, and the hearts and minds of all Arkansas State fans.
The second half, the Monsters bared their teeth. A-State's defense took control with a fumble recovery and three INTs (four total), including a Pick Six from Money Hunter. Once again, the Red Wolves depth proved too much for the opposition, forcing the tired Warhawks into making mistakes and overmatching ULM on both sides of the ball. The defense shut-out the Warhawks in the second half.
Nine thousand and sixty-three souls witnessed firsthand a signature game for a pack of Red Wolves, with Knighten's five TD passes tying an Arkansas State team record, and kicker Luke Ferguson pinning the Warhawks at their own five yard line again and again and again. Oh, and WR J.D. McKissic became the program's all-time receiving leader, too.
But this game really belonged to Fredi Knighten, who in addition to the five TD tosses threw for 300 yards and ran one in for a score. The senior signal-caller didn't throw a single INT and used his legs repeatedly to scramble out of trouble. The ESPN3 crew unanimously named Knighten the game's MVP.
The Red Wolves, who lead the nation with 21 INTs, enjoy a BYE week before facing New Mexico State. The Warhawks, in contrast, gear up for a short week on Thursday against Texas State.
UPDATE: Upon the game's conclusion, ULM head coach Todd Berry was relieved of duty. Coach Berry did an incredible job with limited resources. We can't imagine this is the end of the road for Berry's career.
John Mumford named interim coach at ULM after Todd Berry relieved after 59-21 loss to Arkansas State. Berry had 1 yr left on contract.— Jeff A-State Nation (@ASUJeffReed) November 15, 2015