Sun Belt Conference News and Notes

8:17 AM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

ARKANSAS STATE: In their most dominating performance of the season, the Red Wolves rolled over FCS foe Alcorn State, 56-0, improving to 2-2 while winning their eighth straight home game. Ryan Aplin missed on just one pass attempt (12-of-13) for 198 yards, while tying a career-high with three touchdown passes, which gives him a school-record 50 in his career. He is now one of only four quarterbacks in Sun Belt Conference history to throw for that many scores. Rod Smith (104 yards, TD) and David Oku (92 yards, two TDs) spearheaded an ASU rushing attack that gained nearly 400 yards on the day. The defense was excellent as well, holding Alcorn State to a lowly 2.2 yards per offensive play (fifth-lowest in conference history) while recording its first shutout since a 61-0 win over Mississippi Valley State in 2009. ASU will close out the regular season with eight straight conference tilts, starting this Saturday at home against Western Kentucky.

FIU: The Panthers hung tough against nationally-ranked Louisville, even holding a seven-point lead for much of the second quarter. However, they couldn't overcome the Cardinals' firepower late and suffered a 28-21 loss as a result. Jeremiah Harden rushed for a career-high 102 yards on 20 attempts in his first start since the 2010 season. Jake Metlock started the game, completing 10-of-16 passes for 116 yards, and E.J. Hilliard came in late and nearly brought his team back from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, going 9-of-10 for 82 yards, including a four-yard touchdown strike to Jacob Younger with just under five minutes to play in regulation. The defense held Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to 53 percent passing (19-of-36) and intercepted him twice. He entered the game completing more than 80 percent of his passes on the season. FIU (1-3) kicks off Sun Belt play this Saturday night when it hits the road to take on Louisiana.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: The Owls drew undoubtedly their toughest matchup of the season as they had to travel to Tuscaloosa to take on top-ranked Alabama, and they of course lost the game, 41-7. The offense had no where to go on the afternoon against the nation's top defense, gaining just 110 yards. Only an Alex Deleon touchdown late in the fourth quarter prevented the Crimson Tide from registering their third straight shutout. Graham Wilbert completed 7- of-13 passes, but for just 34 yards. Jonathan Wallace found minimal success running the ball, gaining 47 yards on 12 carries. It was an active day for the Owls defense, with Adarius Glanton (11 tackles) and Brent Harstad (10 tackles, sack) serving as the unit's top performers. FAU (1-3) hopes to halt a three- game losing streak this Saturday when it hosts North Texas.

LOUISIANA: The Ragin Cajuns were idle this past weekend. They'll try to move to 3-1 this Saturday when they open conference play against FIU.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: The Blue Raiders enjoyed a bye week after compiling back-to- back wins to pull to 2-1 on the season. They will return to action this Saturday with a difficult road test against ACC foe Georgia Tech.

NORTH TEXAS: In their Sun Belt Conference opener at home, the Mean Green fell to 1-3 on the season by dropping a 14-7 decision to Troy. Although the offense had a solid day (422 total yards), the unit left plenty of missed opportunities on the table, including three missed field goals and a pair of turnovers-on-downs in the fourth quarter deep in Troy territory. Derek Thompson finished with 236 yards passing and a touchdown, but he completed just 12-of-28 attempts in the process. Thompson's performance resulted in a pair of 100-yard receivers for UNT in Ivan Delgado (six catches, career-high 126 yards) and Brelan Chancellor (four catches, 107 yards, TD). It was the first time the team had a pair of 100-yard receivers since 2007. The play of the defense was the silver lining for the Mean Green, as the unit held the usually-potent Trojan offense to just 14 points on fewer than 400 total yards. North Texas will try to get back on the right track this Saturday when it pays a visit to Florida Atlantic.

SOUTH ALABAMA: The Jaguars played their first-ever game against an SEC opponent over the weekend, and although they lost to nationally-ranked Mississippi State, 30-10, they were able to hold their own against superior competition, gaining just nine fewer yards than the Bulldogs (356-347). C.J. Bennett completed 14-of-26 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, while Ross Metheny (8-of-17, 70 yards) also took some snaps. Greg Hollinger (three catches, 49 yards) was on the receiving end of Bennett's TD strike in the fourth quarter, the team's first touchdown since the opener against Texas-San Antonio. The USA defense played well against a high- powered MSU offense, holding Tyler Russell to less than 50 percent passing (13-of-27). After back- to-back road games, South Alabama (1-3) returns home this Saturday to open up its conference slate against Troy.

TROY: It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win for the Trojans, especially on the road in conference play, as it held on to defeat North Texas this past Saturday, 14-7. Corey Robinson continued his stellar play by completing 29- of-42 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Chip Reeves was the standout of the receiving corps, hauling in seven balls for 120 yards and a touchdown. Eric Thomas also caught seven passes (giving him 100 for his career), albeit for just 36 yards. The defense gave up plenty of yards to North Texas (422), but was able to limit the Mean Green to 2-of-14 on third-down conversion attempts. UNT also failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities to score, including going 0-of-3 on field goal attempts and 0-of-2 on fourth-down tries deep in Trojan territory. Troy (2-2, 1-1 Sun Belt) will play another road game this Saturday, as it faces off for the first time against conference newcomer South Alabama.

ULM: In a back-and-forth home bout in front of a record-setting crowd at Malone Stadium, ULM fell to Baylor last Friday night, 47-42. The Warhawks held the lead on three different occasions, including early in the fourth quarter (35-34) following a one-yard touchdown run by Kolton Browning, but they could not hold off the BU offense, which generated 549 total yards on the night. Browning continues to look impressive in the early going this season, completing 25-of-39 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 49 more yards and another score against the Bears. Jyruss Edwards had his best game of the season (21 carries, 120 yards, TD), and Monterrell Washington was explosive in his first extended action (seven carries, 86 yards, two TDs). Tavarese Maye, Brent Leonard and Colby Harper all had more than 70 yards receiving, with Maye and Leonard each hauling in a touchdown pass from Browning. ULM (1-2) will have one more non-conference test this Saturday at Tulane before beginning its Sun Belt schedule the following week at Middle Tennessee.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: Behind 369 rushing yards, the Hilltoppers moved to 3-1 on the season as it made easy work of Southern Miss, winning 42-17 in front of a record-setting crowd at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Antonio Andrews and Leon Allen both ran wild for Western Kentucky, piling up 136 and 132 yards, respectively, both career-highs. It was the first time since 2008 that the team had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game. Andrews also added a team-best 74 receiving yards and two total touchdowns. Kawaun Jakes was efficient in the win, completing 12-of-18 passes for 172 yards, tossing three touchdowns and no interceptions. The defense was stout all night, especially against the pass, holding three Southern Miss quarterbacks to just 101 yards passing. WKU has won nine of its last 11 games dating back to last season, and it will try to continue that run as it kicks off conference play this Saturday at Arkansas State.

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