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Warhawks on the Rise

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A convincing 44-25 victory over Georgia Southern comes with validation.

Louisiana-Monroe's potential has been building. We saw it in last season's victory over Appalachian State. We saw it in this year's triumph at Southern Miss. Players like star quarterback Caleb Evans and all-everything all-purpose star Marcus Green have embodied it. Now, Matt Viator's Warhawks have unleashed it. On an impressive three-game winning streak, Louisiana-Monroe is alone atop the Sun belt West standings. A convincing 44-25 victory over Georgia Southern comes with validation.

The Warhawks overwhelmed the Eagles, who entered ranked just outside the national top 25, a notion the box score will confirm; Louisiana-Monroe outgained Georgia Southern 573 total yards to 216. It didn't take long for a statement to be made. A 69-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Green, mere minutes after a 80-yard scoring connection between the two, pushed the home advantage to 21-0 early in the second quarter. Evans' fourth total touchdown got the Warhawks to 41 points before the third period closed. 

In addition to setting a new season-high in total offense, the Warhawks became the only defense to hold the Eagles, who scored on defense and special teams on Saturday, without a rushing touchdown this year, a feat not even Clemson accomplished.

A Sun Belt showcase put the likes of Evans and Green squarely in the spotlight. Evans threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, adding 102 yards on the ground and two more rushing scores. He is the lone league quarterback ever with a 330-yard passing, 100-yard rushing game, a milestone Evans, including last season's outing with Louisiana, has now reached twice. Green became college football's first player since 2002 to catch two passes for at least 149 yards and two touchdowns. Former Alabama-transfer Derrick Gore rushed for 114 yards and score.

Though Georgia Southern, prior to the weekend, had given up just ten sacks all year, Louisiana-Monroe just totaled five. With Larance Shaw leading the way with 2.5, the Warhawks also compiled nine tackles for loss. Louisiana-Monroe limited the Eagles to merely 216 offensive yards, a total Georgia Southern topped punting. The Warhawks allowed just 61 second half yards, 36 of which was gained on the Eagles' final drive.

Clearly, Louisiana-Monroe has hit its stride. Over their past three games, all Sun Belt wins, the Warhawks have scored 109 points and given up merely five opposing offensive touchdowns. In critical games, Louisiana-Monroe is playing with a championship conviction. The Warhawks, ahead of a final stretch at South Alabama and Arkansas State and at home finale against rival Louisiana, have repositioned themselves in the division. Louisiana-Monroe is in first place as the front-runner in the Sun Belt West.  

At 5-4, the Warhawks suddenly have a winning record. It's not just a turnaround, it's a trend. This is a team rising at the right time. Saturday was an example of just how good Louisiana-Monroe can be.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports