Browning’s passing carries ULM past North Texas, 42-16

MONROE — Kolton Browning returned from a foot injury to throw for 324 yards and three touchdowns as Louisiana-Monroe defeated North Texas 42-16 Saturday to earn its first winning season as a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

Browning completed 25 of 34 passes for the Warhawks (7-4, 5-2 Sun Belt Conference), whose record is the program’s best since going 9-3 in 1993.

“I knew he was going to play well,” ULM coach Todd Berry said. “He was very focused on doing the things he could do, and he did a nice job of playing within himself.

“Is there some pain? Sure, but I don’t think he was in a lot of pain. It’s painful, but winning helps that,” Berry added.

Wide receiver Je’Ron Hamm caught seven of Browning’s passes for a career-high 119 yards, including fourth-quarter touchdowns of 24 and 61 yards that stretched the lead to 35-10.

Brent Leonard had eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown for the Warhawks, who had lost their previous two games after winning five straight.

“Offensively, (we) created some explosions, which is something that I thought we hadn’t done in a while,” Berry said.

“They (Mean Green) keyed in on stopping the run, which allowed us to throw the ball a little, which is fi ne. Like I said before, I don’t care how we get there, as long as we get there. I got to play a lot of guys tonight, even early on, and needed to, out of a health standpoint.”

Derek Thompson completed 27 of 43 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns for the Mean Green (4-7, 3-4), with Carlos Harris catching eight for 118 yards.

The teams combined for 985 yards total offense.

The Warhawks gained 518 total yards on the night to the Mean Green’s 467.

R.J. Young led the UL-Monroe defense 14 total tackles.

UL-Monroe will conclude its regular season at Florida International on Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. CST.