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December 7, 2011

ULM football ranked among NCAA's best in several categories

The ULM football team wrapped up its 2011 campaign with an impressive 26-0 victory at Florida Atlantic Dec. 3.

It was the first shutout by the Warhawks since 2009 and the first in a league game since 2006.

After limiting the Owls to just 148 yards of total offense and 69 rushing yards, ULM cemented itself as one of the top defenses in the NCAA this season and in Sun Belt Conference history.

The Warhawks finished the season eighth in the NCAA allowing just 100.0 rushing yards per game and 22nd in total defense allowing 326.2 yards.

The Warhawks established a new Sun Belt record for rush defense and the eighth place finish is tied with Troy’s 2004 squad for the best NCAA ranking in the category in league history.

ULM’s total defense yardage was just 15.2 yards away from ranking in the top five in Sun Belt history; the Warhawks allowed 3,914 yards this season which was just six yards shy of Arkansas State’s conference-leading total of 3,908.

A lot of ULM’s defensive success can be traced to its effectiveness in the red zone and for limiting explosion plays (10+ yards).

The Warhawks finished the season eighth in the NCAA in red zone defense as opponents scored just 71.7 percent of the time they reached the ULM 20-yard line – ULM held its final three opponents to a 30.0 percent (3-of-10) success rate in the red zone.

ULM held opponents to the 19th fewest explosion plays in 2011 with 142 and the fourth fewest rushes of 10 or more yards with 36 allowed, in fact the Warhawks were second in the NCAA allowing just six rushes of 20 or more yards – only Alabama allowed fewer.

The Warhawks also ranked among the NCAA leaders in kickoff returns (11th), time of possession (13th), opponent yards per play (18th), opponent kickoff returns (19th), fumbles lost (26th), interceptions (32nd), sacks (37th) and turnover margin (38th).

All told, ULM improved its position in 24-of-33 categories in the NCAA rankings and that improvement was by an average of 32.5 spots.

ULM’s place in the national rankings was not limited to just the team as several players finished with impressive totals.

Luther Ambrose finished the year fifth in the NCAA averaging 31.2 yards per kick return, while ranking second in kickoff return touchdowns and first in both returns of 40 or more yards and 50 or more yards.

Darius Prelow finished the year tied for 23rd nationally after averaging 0.33 interceptions per game, while Kolton Browning finished 42nd in total offense, Brent Leonard finished 45th in receptions per game, Jason Edwards was 65th in tackles, Isaiah Newsome was tied for 65th in interceptions and Ken Dorsey and Troy Evans tied for 68th in tackles for loss.

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