Red Wolves stay in first with win

JONESBORO — The showdown between two Sun Belt Conference first-place teams went the way of Arkansas State as the Red Wolves scored 21 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 45-23 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday night in front of a second-largest Liberty Bank Stadium crowd of 30,243 spectators.

A-State solidified its share of first place in the SBC standings as the Red Wolves won for the fifth consecutive time to date in the ESPNU televised contest. ASU, which is 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference with the decision, continued its home success as the Red Wolves won for the 11th time in their last 12 home appearances. The victory also secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1986-87.

“I’m very proud of our team.” said ASU head coach Gus Malzhan in a press confernece. “We beat a good football team (ULM) at home. We’ve played well on the road the last few weeks and we really haven’t put together a real good performance at home so it feels real good to have that and get our seventh victory.”

The two teams combined to amass 967 yards in total offense as A-State produced 334 passing yards and generated 200 on the ground. Besides his three TD’s on the night, David Oku rushed for a game-high 131 yards on 22 carries and averaged 6.0 yards per attempt.

Ryan Aplin continued to demonstrate his candidacy for postseason All-American honors by throwing for a season-high 334 yards and two TD’s on 26-of-34 passing to go with 44 rushing yards. Redshirt freshman wide receiver J.D. McKissic was Aplin’s favorite target with 12 receptions for 102 yards. Taylor Stockemer and Julian Jones had 86 and 81 yards, respectively.

For ULM, Cody Wells also turned in a productive evening by throwing for a game-high 357 yards. Brent Leonard led the Warhawks’ receivers with 14 grabs for 134 yards.

ASU will close out the road portion of its 2012 slate next Saturday, Nov. 17 , at Troy. The conference game is set for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.