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Sun Belt Conference News and Notes
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
ARKANSAS STATE: The Red Wolves rode a career-day from quarterback Ryan Aplin as they went on the road to defeat Troy, 41-34. With 454 yards of total offense (369 passing, 85 rushing), Aplin broke the school record for yards in a game, passing his previous mark of 442. As if the record-setting performance wasn't enough, the senior signal-caller also tossed four touchdown passes. Also having a career-day was freshman receiver J.D. McKissic, who caught 12 balls for a second straight week, while putting up 138 yards and a touchdown to boot. Taylor Stockemer (six receptions, 117 yards, TD) also took advantage of Aplin's big day. David Oku was rock solid on the ground with 93 yards on 20 carries, crossing into the end zone on two occasions. Arkansas State (8-3, 6-1 Sun Belt) remains in first place and it will try to lock up the conference title on Dec. 1 against Middle Tennessee.
FIU: Behind 264 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns from Jake Metlock, the Panthers were able to conquer Florida Atlantic on the road, 34-24, to win The Shula Bowl. Metlock went 17-of-28, while also rushing for 36 yards en route to being named the game's MVP. Wayne Times (five receptions, 53 yards) and Willis Wright (two receptions, 55 yards) hauled in the Medlock scoring strikes, and Kedrick Rhodes had a busy day on the ground with 18 carries for 99 yards and a score. FIU (3-8, 2-5 Sun Belt) also got a jolt of energy from its special teams, as Richard Leonard returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown just moments after FAU took its only lead of the game. The defense was stout, especially on the ground, where it held the Owls to negative-12 yards rushing thanks in large part to four sacks. FIU will finish its season at home this Saturday against ULM.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: In the 11th Annual Shula Bowl over the weekend, the Owls fell at home to FIU, 34-24. Graham Wilbert did his best to try and keep his team in the game, completing 28-of-51 passes for 403 yards, all career-highs, with two touchdowns and an interception. One of the scoring strikes went for 60 yards to Jenson Stoshak in the fourth quarter to bring FAU (3-8, 2-5 Sun Belt) to within three, but those would be the last points it would score. Stoshak (108 yards) crossed the century mark receiving on five receptions, as did William Dukes (116 yards) on six catches. Daniel McKinney was hot on their heels with 90 yards on a team-high seven receptions. The running game was completely neutralized, gaining negative-12 yards on the night, although Jonathan Wallace did score a touchdown. FAU will close out its season on Dec. 1 against Louisiana.
LOUISIANA: Down 10 in the fourth quarter, the Ragin' Cajuns scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of regulation to pull off an improbable comeback against Western Kentucky, 31-27. As a result, Louisiana is bowl eligible for the second straight season. Terrance Broadway had a career-day as far as total yardage was concerned, completing 23-of-33 passes for 258 yards, a touchdown, with two interceptions, while rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown -- both scores coming during the furious comeback. Harry Peoples was Broadway's favorite target with a career-high 13 catches for 144 yards, but it was Jamal Robinson (three receptions, 27 yards, TD) who caught the late touchdown pass. Not to be lost in the shuffle of a great ground game was Alonzo Harris (104 yards) and Torrey Pierce (68 yards, two TDs). Louisiana's (6-4, 4-2) slim hopes of being named conference champs are still alive, and the team will end the season with winnable games against South Alabama (Nov. 24) and Florida Atlantic (Dec. 1)
MIDDLE TENNESSEE: It wasn't pretty, but Middle Tennessee kept its dream of a Sun Belt Conference championship alive with a 20-12 win over South Alabama. Logan Kilgore threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-29 passing, with one score going to Jeremiah Bryson (six receptions for 90 yards, both career- highs) and the other to Anthony Amos (five receptions, 69 yards). Freshman running back Jordan Parker shined, rushing the ball 24 times for a career-best 154 yards. The defense was up to par as well, holding the Jaguars to 338 yards of offense while logging three interceptions. The Blue Raiders (7-3, 5-1) have now won five road games this season, and if it takes care of business against Troy this Saturday, will have an opportunity to win the conference title on Dec. 1 at Arkansas State.
NORTH TEXAS: Despite putting up 467 yards of total offense, the Mean Green were rarely within striking distance in their recent matchup with ULM, as they lost, 42-16. Derek Thompson completed 27-of-43 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw a pair of interceptions. Freshman receiver Carlos Harris was Thompson's preferred target on the afternoon, as he recorded eight catches for 118 yards, both career-highs. Darnell Smith (72 yards, TD) and Ivan Delgado (81 yards) also had impressive days receiving, while Brandin Byrd paced the rushing attack with 77 yards. The defense had no answer for Kolton Browning and the Warhawks, allowing 518 yards on the day. North Texas (4-7, 3-4 Sun Belt) will finish its season this Saturday at Western Kentucky.
SOUTH ALABAMA: The Jaguars were held to just 338 yards as they dropped a 20-12 decision to Middle Tennessee over the weekend. Ross Metheny struggled in completing just 17-of-30 passes for 189 yards and three interceptions. He did manage to throw the team's only touchdown of the game to Corey Besteda (two receptions, 29 yards) late in the third quarter to get the game to within five points, but that would be the last time they would score. Terrence Timmons had 76 yards rushing, but as a team South Alabama (2-9, 1-6 Sun Belt) averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. The Jaguars' conference schedule will conclude this Saturday against Louisiana. They end the regular season on Dec. 1 at Hawaii.
TROY: The Trojans' Homecoming game was spoiled by an offensive outburst by Arkansas State, as they fell to the Red Wolves, 41-34. The Troy (5-6, 3-4 Sun Belt) defense played terribly, allowing 595 yards, but the offense did all it could to keep it in the game with 518 yards. For the second time this season and the third time in his career year, Corey Robinson threw for over 400 yards, completing 26-of-35 passes for 417 yards and a touchdown. Reeves was on the receiving end of that scoring strike and finished with six grabs for 142 yards. The rushing attack was bottled up for just 71 yards on 33 attempts, but Deon Anthony ran in a touchdown. Despite its poor play, the defense contributed to the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when Brynden Trawick returned an interception 70 yards for touchdown. Will Scott kicked four short field goals, as the Trojans' inability to punch in touchdowns inside the red zone was what ultimately led to their downfall. Troy will close out the regular season on the road versus Middle Tennessee next week, looking to earn bowl eligibility with a win.
ULM: Kolton Browning returned from injury to post a big day as the Warhawks logged a 42-16 win over North Texas, and in the process secured their first winning season since joining the FBS. After missing the better part of two games, Browning barely skipped a beat, completing 25-of-34 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another 13 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Je'Ron Hamm finished with seven receptions for 119 yards and two scores, and Brent Leonard was hot on his heels with eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell Bailey (46 yards) had a touchdown rushing, as did DaVontae McNeal (54 yards) on his only carry of the game. ULM (7-4, 5-2 Sun Belt) will close out the regular season this Saturday against FIU.
WESTERN KENTUCKY: The Hilltoppers appeared well on their way to victory when they were up by 10 points with three minutes to play against Louisiana, but they surrendered two late touchdowns to drop their third straight game, 31-27. The late defensive lapse spoiled a fantastic effort from Antonio Andrews, who racked up a career-high 238 rushing yards with two scores. For the third straight game, Andrews recorded over 300 all-purpose yards, and he could very well be on his way to Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors. Kawaun Jakes did not have his best game, completing 10-of-18 passes for 149 yards with zero touchdowns, an interception, and three sacks. The defense actually played well for most of the game, forcing four Cajun turnovers. WKU (6-5, 3-4 Sun Belt) is falling fast in the standings, and it will close out the regular season this Saturday against North Texas.
11/19 12:45:29 ET
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