MONROE, LA. – Army West Point football kicked off its 2023 season with a 17-13 defeat at Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night. The game began in an unorthodox way, as a power outage at Malone Stadium caused the videoboard to be off as the game started without a functional videoboard as the referees kept the official clock on the field. The videoboard and power were restored midway through the second quarter.
On Army’s first offensive drive of the season under new offensive coordinator Drew Thatcher, QB Bryson Daily, who was making his first career start, completed his first career pass, a 53-yard reception to sophomore WR Liam Fortner, also his first career reception.
From the ULM 17-yard-line threatening to score, Daily was strip sacked by ULM’s Norman Massey which was recovered by the Warhawks and took away Army’s scoring opportunity.
The Army offense pieced together another drive moving 47 yards on 11 plays, but senior K Quinn Maretzki missed a field goal try from 37 yards out, as Army failed to get on the board for the second straight drive.
The Warhawks got into Army territory for the first time on their third drive after converting on a pair of third down conversions. They were eventually forced into a third straight punt after Brett Gerena sniffed out a QB draw on third-and-ten from the Army 43.
Two plays after a 20-yard pickup on a slant to WR Isaiah Alston, Daily threw an interception on an attempt over the middle that ULM LB Ja’Terious Evans picked off. The Warhawks were able to capitalize on Army’s second turnover, converting a 24-yard field goal by Derek McCormick, to take a 3-0 at the 6:20 mark in the second quarter.
Army found the spark it needed when DB Bo Nicolas-Paul intercepted ULM QB Jiya Wright and returned it 44 yards for Army’s first TD of the season with 2:33 remaining in the second quarter. It was Army’s first interception returned for a touchdown since Jabari Moore did so vs. Mercer in 2020. It was Nicolas-Paul’s second career INT.
On the next ensuing drive, DB Max DiDomenico picked off Wright and gave the offense the ball at the 35 yard-line.
Army would capitalize on the turnover when Maretzki converted a 22-yard field goal, to give Army a 10-3 lead with seven seconds to go in the half.
In the third quarter, each team was stalled offensively as each punted twice.
To begin the fourth quarter, Army pieced together a nine play, 58-yard drive which was capped off on a 28-yard field goal by Maretzki to give the Black Knights a two-score lead, 13-3.
The Army defense remained stout, forcing the sixth ULM punt of the night with 8:19 left to play. Army was pinned inside its own ten-yard line following the Warhawks’ punt, with Cooper Allan then booting a career-best 52-yard punt from his own end zone.
Starting from its own 38-yard line, ULM was able to break its largest gain of the day with Hunter Smith taking a rush up the middle to the house for the first touchdown of the night for the home team. A McCormick PAT made it a 13-10 contest.
Army faced a third-and-long on its ensuing drive, with Daily hitting Marshall over the middle for a big gain. However, Car’lin Vigers was able to force the ball loose and ULM took over with its second fumble recovery of the evening.
Isaiah Woullard was then able to break free for a 33-yard gain, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Herring to Tyrone Powell which gave ULM a 17-13 lead with 2:48 remaining.
Army got the ball back trailing by four but turned it over for the fourth time on the night on the second play of the drive as A.J. Watts came down with the interception. ULM’s drive stalled with under a minute left, with Cameron Jones then blocking a 24-yard field goal attempt on fourth down with 29 seconds remaining.
Army got the ball back at its own 15-yard line, but with no timeouts, the Black Knights were unable move the ball downfield with ULM recovering a last-ditch lateral as time expired.