Photo courtesy of Louisiana-Monroe athletics
For a short stretch, SEC schools learned not to take Louisiana-Monroe lightly. The Warhawks famously knocked off Nick Saban’s Alabama team in 2007.
On this day 10 years ago, Louisiana-Monroe went back into SEC country and knocked off a top-10 team. In Little Rock, Louisiana-Monroe rallied from 21 points down to knock off No. 8 Arkansas in overtime, 34-31.
Setting the Stage
Louisiana-Monroe joined the FBS in 1994, but had never taken down a ranked opponent as it arrived in Arkansas’ state capital on Sept. 8, 2012. The Warhawks were playing their season opener and coming off a 4-8 season. To that point, Louisiana-Monroe had never had a winning season as an FBS school.
Arkansas, on the other hand, was ranked eighth and 1-0 after knocking off Jacksonville State in its season opener. The Razorbacks finished 11-2 and in the AP top 5 the year prior. They were, however, enduring a coaching change. After a controversial fallout with Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith was the new head man in Fayetteville.
Warhawks Complete a Comeback for the Ages
Louisiana-Monroe scored first, but for most of the night, things went as most expected. Tyler Wilson threw two touchdown passes, Knile Davis rushed for another and Brandon Allen added a touchdown toss to give the Razorbacks a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Warhawks refused to roll over.
Jyruss Edwards responded with a touchdown run to cut the lead to 14. Quarterback Kolton Browning, who threw the game’s first touchdown, added a second in the first minute of the fourth quarter and another in the final minute to draw Louisiana-Monroe even.
With 47 seconds left, Browning’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Brent Leonard knotted the score at 28.
In overtime, Louisiana-Monroe gave Arkansas a new set of downs with a penalty, but Allen was 0-for-5 passing in the extra session. A 37-yard field goal from Zach Hocker put Arkansas back in front.
It looked as though the Arkansas defense had done its job on Louisiana-Monroe’s possession. On 4th-and-1 from the Arkansas 16-yard-line, however, head coach Todd Berry kept his offense on the field.
Forced to scramble, Browning shifted left before seeing a gaping hole on the right. With nothing but green grass in front of him, Browning scampered 16 yards for the winning touchdown and his fourth total score.
Browning finished with 412 yards passing and 69 more on the ground. As a team, the Warhawks racked up 550 yards of offense to 377 for Arkansas.
Recap and box score:
For Arkansas, the disappointing loss would be one of many during a season of lowlights. The Razorbacks fell out of the polls and never returned. The defeat began a 4-game losing streak for Arkansas, which finished just 4-8.
Louisiana-Monroe, on the other hand, would have a year to remember. The Warhawks had their first winning season as an FBS program, going 8-5. They also reached their first and only bowl game as an FBS program — a 45-14 loss to Ohio in the Independence Bowl.
Louisiana-Monroe is still looking for its first bowl win. Its first win over a ranked opponent as an FBS program, however, came in Little Rock, Ark. on this day one decade ago.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.