Auburn, AL (ASU) - Arkansas State sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin passed for 278 yards and a touchdown, but the 22nd-ranked Auburn Tigers countered with 363 yards of total offense and five total scores from junior quarterback Cameron Newton and defeated the Red Wolves 52-26 before a crowd of 83,441 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Aplin connected on 28 of his 42 passes on the night to seven receivers, with junior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton hauling in eight passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, and safety M.D. Jennings led the ASU defense with 11 tackles, including two for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
"We are obviously disappointed in the outcome, but I was pleased with our effort," said ASU head coach Steve Roberts. "We have a ton of things that we can improve on and things that we have to get corrected in order for us to meet our goals and win the Sun Belt Conference championship. Auburn has a great football team and you have to give them a lot of credit offensively. Cameron Newton is a tremendous football player and obviously he was a big difference in the outcome of the ballgame."
"I am proud of our fooball team, we played as hard the last snap as we did the first," added Roberts. "Depth sort of got us a little bit there early in the ballgame. We were wanting to rotate more ballplayers, but we gave up too many big plays to accomplish that."
Arkansas State got on the board first when Aplin passed complete across the middle to Frampton from 10 yards out for a Red Wolves touchdown at the 5:18 mark of the first quarter. The scoring strike was set up when Aplin found wide receiver Allen Muse alone down the right sideline for a 61-yard gain on the first play of the drive, which covered 82 yards in six plays.
Auburn answered with a six-play 58-yard drive on its next possession that ended with a three-yard touchdown run from senior wideout Kodi Burns with 1:51 to go in the first quarter. Senior Wes Bynum added the extra point for the Tigers, giving Auburn a 7-6 lead after the extra point attempt following ASU's touchdown was no good.
Less than a minute later, Auburn made it 14-6 when Newton passed complete for a 36-yard touchdown to senior running back Mario Fannin with one minute to play in the opening quarter.
Auburn added a two-yard touchdown run from Newton with 9:43 remaining in the second quarter to stretch its lead to 21-6, but the Red Wolves answered with a 55-yard drive that ended with junior running back Jermaine Robertson's 13-yard touchdown run with 6:46 to go in the first half.
The Tigers used the big play to put two more touchdowns on the board before the break, getting a 48-yard scoring pass from Newton to wide receiver Quindarius Carr and a 71-yard touchdown run from Newton. A 26-yard field goal from ASU freshman Bryan Davis following Auburn's Newton-to-Carr touchdown left the Tigers with a 35-16 lead at the break.
Arkansas State's Nick Nelms recovered an Auburn fumble on the second half kickoff to set up an Arkansas State touchdown that pulled the Red Wolves trimmed the deficit 35-23. Nelms' recovery set up the Red Wolves offense at the Auburn 27, and ASU needed just five plays to find the end zone, scoring on an eight-yard touchdown run from junior running back Derek Lawson.
Auburn answered with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Fannin and a 24-yard field goal from Bynum on the final play of the third quarter to take a 45-23 lead into the final period of play.
Auburn's final score came on a two-yard touchdown run from freshman Michael Dyer midway through the fourth, and Davis added a 41-yard field goal for the Red Wolves with 4:16 remaining in the game to set the final score at 52-26.
In addition to the numbers from Aplin and Frampton, the Red Wolves also got 80 yards on four catches from Muse and six catches for 58 yards from sophomore Taylor Stockemer. Lawson tallied 45 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to lead the ASU rushing effort. Holmes added seven tackles, including one for loss and forced a fumble for the A-State defense.
Arkansas State will open Sun Belt Conference play Sept. 11 when the Red Wolves travel to Lafayette, La., for a 2:30 p.m. clash with the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette in a game televised by the Sun Belt Network.
ARKANSAS STATE POSTGAME NOTES
ASU's Team Captains for game 1 were senior's Sifa Etu, Anthony Robinson, Adam Gaston and Bryan Hall.
Five players started their first career game at ASU, including Dorvus Woods (DL), Justin Robertson (DE), Walter Moody (CB), Darron Edwards (CB) and Tausean Holmes (DB) on defense and Anthony Robinson (WR) on offense.
21 players competed in their first career game at A-State, including three true freshmen, eight redshirt freshmen, two sophomore, six junior-college transfers (all juniors) and two juniors.
The crowd of 83,441 was the eighth largest to ever watch an Arkansas State football game.
ASU's 26 points scored are its most against a top-25 opponent under head coach Steve Roberts, nine points under the 35 scored against No. 25 Memphis in 2004.
Ryan Aplin threw a 61-yard pass to Allen Muse in the first quarter that was the second longest completion of his career and the longest reception of Muse's career.
Ryan Aplin threw his fourth career touchdown pass. He also recorded 28 completions on 42 attempts for a career-high 278 yards, all career highs.
Aplin's 28 completions tie for third most in school history for a single game (with Jeremie Watkins vs East Carolina in 1996).
Six ASU wide receivers recorded a career-best reception total.
WR Allen Muse finished the game with a career-high 80 receiving yards on four receptions, which is also a career high.
WR Taylor Stockemer caught a career-best six passes for 58 yards.
WR Lucious Henderson caught four passes for 22 yards, both career highs.
WR Anthony Robinson caught a career-high three passes for 24 yards.
WR Carlos McCants (2 for 20 yards) and TE Andre Smith (2 for 19 yards) caught their first career passes at ASU.
WR Dwayne Frampton recorded his first career touchdown reception at ASU, a 10-yard catch to give A-State a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Frampton finished the first quarter alone with three receptions for 29 yards, and the game with eight receptions for 74 yards.
Frampton's eight receptions tied the most by any ASU player for all of last season.
Jermaine Robertson recorded a 13-yard touchdown run on his first carry, giving him two rushing TD's for his career. His other TD came against Mississippi Valley State in the 2009 season opener.
Derek Lawson recorded his seventh career rushing touchdown.
Dorvus Woods and Chaz Scales both finished the game with one tackle for loss. For Woods, he now has 10.5 TFL for his career and it was the first tackle behind the line of scrimmage for Scales.
M.D Jennings posted double-figure tackles (11) in a game for the fourth time of his career. He also recorded his second career forced fumble, fourth fumble recovery of his career and his third career sack.
Tausean Holmes recorded his first career forced fumble and Nick Nelms recorded his first career fumble recovery.
ASU had at least one player attempt his first career punt (Neely Sullivent and Dean Gericke), first career kickoff (Bobby Zalud) and first career extra point and field goal (Brian Davis). Tausean Holmes, Roderick Hall and Dwayne Frampton all returned their first career kicks and/or punts as well.
Roderick Hall's first career kickoff return went for 40 yards, the longest of the game by an ASU player.