Sun Belt Conference Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Upcoming Games

October 25

* Troy at FIU - 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

October 29

* Western Kentucky at Louisiana-Monroe - 2:30 p.m.

* North Texas at Arkansas State - 6 p.m.

* Louisiana-Lafayette at Middle Tennessee - 6:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

All times Central (CT) and subject to change; * denotes Sun Belt Conference game; TV carrier in parenthesis

Recent Results

October 18

* Arkansas State 34, FIU 16 - 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

October 22

* Western Kentucky 42, Louisiana-Lafayette 23 - 3 p.m.

* North Texas 38, Louisiana-Monroe 21 - 4 p.m.

* Middle Tennessee 38, Florida Atlantic 14- 7 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

Sun Belt News and Notes

ASU Takes Over Top spot of Sun belt Standings; WKU Upsets Cajuns

WKU's Bobby Rainey went wild against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday in sparking the Hilltoppers to a 42-23 win over the Cajuns.

Rainey rushed 32 times for a season-high 206 yards against the Cajuns. He also had the first three-touchdown game of his career, capping off the victory with a 24-yard scoring run late in the game. His efforts moved him up to third in the nation in rushing, averaging 130 yards per game on the ground.

For the Cajuns, the loss ended their six game win streak and knocked them from atop of the Sun Belt Conference standings.

Arkansas State, backed by a Tuesday night win at home against FIU, now takes over the number one spot in the league as the last team without a loss in conference play.

For the second consecutive Tuesday, FIU will be featured in a live ESPN2 telecast. This time the Panthers return home to face Troy. The match-up between the two teams features the 2010 Sun Belt co-champions. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. (CT).

Sun Belt Players of the Week (Selected by Media Panel)

Offensive Player of the Week

Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky, Sr., RB)

Bobby Rainey rushed for 206 yards and a career-high three touchdowns as the Hilltoppers won their first home game since 2008 with a 42-23 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. Rainey moved into fourth place on the WKU career rushing list with his performance – the second 200-yard rushing game of his career. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry on his 32 runs, picking up 99 of his 206 yards in the fourth quarter. He helped seal a victory with a 56-yard run, followed by a 24-yard touchdown run late in the fourth. He also completed his second pass of the season – a 31-yard completion. Now averaging 130.0 yards per game, Rainey moved up to third in the nation in rushing. His performance also earned him a helmet sticker on ESPN's College Gameday Final. Also named National Running Back of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards

Defensive Player of the Week

Eric Russell (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB)

Russell had a strong all-around day with six tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. Five of his stops were solo and he helped the Blue Raider defense recover five fumbles on the night, a new season best for takeaways. Russell hauled in his interception three yards deep in the end zone and brought it back to the Florida Atlantic 36-yard line, a 64-yard return. Middle Tennessee then advanced another 15 yards after the play following a penalty on the Owls, setting up a short field situation. He was part of the Blue Raider defense that limited FAU to 276 total offensive yards.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Luther Ambrose (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., WR/KR)

Luther Ambrose became ULM's all-time leader in kickoff return yards and he did it in style as he took the opening kickoff 100 yards to the house at North Texas. It was his second career kickoff return for a touchdown and ULM's first since 2008.He finished with 148 yards on three returns. Ambrose became just the fifth player in Sun Belt history to return a kick 100 yards for a touchdown and just the third in ULM history (first since 1978). He now ranks second in SBC history in kickoffs returned for a touchdown and fifth in career kickoff return yards with 2,126. Entering the weekend, only six other players in the NCAA had a return of 100 yards.

Arkansas State News and Notes

Dewayne Frampton now has at least one catch in 19 straight games, one for every game he has played. That reception also moved him into sixth on the A-State single season receptions list with 49.

Ryan Aplin set a new career-high with 164 rushing yards. His previous career-high was 122 yards in 2009 against North Texas. That rushing total is also the most of any A-State player this season and the most of any player since the 2008. Aplin's 311-yards of total offense gives him 2,134 for the year. That is the 8th most for a single season in ASU history. Aplin finished the game 14-24 passing, moving him into ninth-place with 152 completions on the A-State single season pass completions list. Aplin now has 31 career touchdown passes, leaving him one shy for third most in school history.

With Aplin's 40-yard pass to Taylor Stockemer in the third quarter, the Red Wolves have now recorded at least one play of 40 yards in 6 of its 7 games.

The A-State offense has recorded at least 300 yards in total offense in 18 of its last 19 games.

Freshman safety Sterling Young finished the game with a career-high seven tackles. He also added the first fumble recovery and sack of his career.

Junior LB Nick Nelms had a career-high eight tackles and has also has forced at least one fumble in his last two games.

Jaquan Kilcrease had a season-high eight tackles, five of which came in the first half.

Qushaun Lee added his second interception of the season. The A-State defense now has nine interceptions over its last four games.

Brandon Joiner has now recorded at least a partial sack in nine of ASU's last 12 games.

Florida Atlantic News and Notes

FAU played host to Middle Tennessee in the second game played at FAU's new on-campus stadium. Turnovers proved to be the newest undoing for the Owls, a team that entered the contest with a positive give-away/take-away ration. FAU tossed one interception and fumbled eight times, losing five.

Offensively, senior Alfred Morris had 18 carries for 153 yards his third highest career single game total. Morris continues to get his yards the hard way, by pounding them out but, did have his longest rush of the season with a 48-yard carry. Senior fullback Xavier Stinson led the receivers with four receptions for 20 yards. Freshman receiver Derek Moise had 32 yards to lead all FAU receivers and it was tallied on just two receptions.

Sixth-year senior running back Willie Floyd continues to show his versatility with a 13 yard reception, four returns for a total of 76 yards. True freshman DJ Frye-Smith had two returns for a total of 48 yards, including a 36-yard return.

Mickey Groody, who is averaging nearly seven punts a game, met his average per game with seven and averaged 43.9 per punt. Just two were returned.

Defensively, FAU was led by Marcus Bartels who had 12 tackles on the night, one for a loss of one yard and the senior recovered a fumble. It was also a busy night for his fellow defensive backs. Brentley Harstad grabbed an interception and return of five yards while corner Keith Reaser also had an interception and returned it for 33 yards. Junior linebacker David Hinds was the only other Owls with double-digit tackles with 10. Sophomore outside linebacker Cory Henry had the Owls lone sack a loss of two yards.

FIU News and Notes

T.Y. Hilton caught his 22nd career touchdown, tying the Sun Belt Conference and FIU all-time records, but it wasn't enough as the Panthers fell 34-16 to the Arkansas State Red Wolves, Tuesday night.

Hilton finished the game with 6 receptions for 97 yards, giving him 200 for his career, which is a new FIU all-time record. Chandler Williams was the previous record holder.

Hilton's third quarter touchdown catch was the 22nd of his career, tying MTSU's Kerry Wright for the all-time Sun Belt Conference record, and Corey McKinney for the all-time FIU record (pre-Sun Belt era).

Quarterback Wes Carroll finished the game 23-of-37 for 223 yards to go along with a touchdown and an interception.

Defensively, Winston Fraser led the Panthers with a career-best 17 tackles. His 17 tackles are a career-high. His previous best was 12 against Duke (10/1/11).

Jack Griffin's 46-yard field goal in the first quarter was his longest of the season.

FIU held the Red Wolves scoreless in the first quarter. This marks the fourth time FIU has held its opponent scoreless in the opening quarter. FIU has outscored opponents 62-29 in the first.

Junior Mertile's first-quarter interception was his first of the year. He led the Panthers with three in 2010 after converting from WR to DB late in the season.

Jack Griffin's three field goals are tied for a career-high.

Louisiana-Lafayette News and Notes

The Cajuns had their six-game win streak snapped after a 42-23 loss on the road at Western Kentucky.

Quarterback Blaine Gautier had a career day in the loss throwing for 419 yards, third-most in school history. His 32 completions in the contest ranks fifth-most in a single game at ULL.

Gautier has thrown 11 TD passes in his last five games (and he played just one series in one of those games) combining for 1,261 passing yards. His QB rating over the last five games is 171.6.

For the fourth straight game, the Cajuns had a receiver go over 100 yards after Harry Peoples totaled 140 yards on 10 catches.

Ladarius Green recorded his third career two-touchdown performance of his career at WKU. Green, who leads the team with five TD catches on the season, moved into third in career touchdowns with the effort tying Fred Stamps with 19.

After posting eight catches against the Hilltoppers, Green just needs four catches to reach fifth all-time in career receptions (120).

Gautier and Green have combined to hook up for seven career touchdown passes and rank seventh all-time.

The Cajuns go back on the road this weekend as they head to Middle Tennessee. ULL has won three of its last four road trips in Murfreesboro, Tenn. against the Blue Raiders.

Louisiana-Monroe News and Notes

Luther Ambrose's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the second of his career; it was ULM's first since Ambrose returned one 91-yards at Arkansas State on Oct. 11, 2008. Ambrose became ULM's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage with his touchdown run; he has 2,126.

Darius Prelow extended his team-leading consecutive games started streak to 31 games.

ULM held its opponent scoreless on its opening drive for the fifth time in seven games this season and for the third straight game.

Centarius Donald's 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his third of the season. ULM has scored a rushing touchdown in four of seven games this season and in three of the last four games

ULM's 14-7 first quarter lead marked the third time this season that it had led at the end of the opening quarter; Grambling State (W, 35-7) & TCU (L, 17-38)

The 14-14 tie at halftime marked the second straight week that the Warhawks were tied at the half (3-3 at Troy).

Jyruss Edwards' 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was his third of the season and seventh of his career.

The Warhawks have rushed for multiple touchdowns in four games this season and in three of the past four games.

Brent Leonard finished with eight catches for 113 yards; it was his second 100+yard receiving game of the season and career.

Middle Tennessee News and Notes

Sophomore QB Logan Kilgore set a new school record when he completed the first 19 passes he attempted against FAU. The previous record for consecutive completions was 15 set by Wes Counts in 2001. The NCAA record is 26 for a single-game, which was set earlier in the day by East Carolina QB Dominique Davis against Navy. Kilgore is well on his way to breaking the single-season record at MT for touchdown passes. With three against FAU, Kilgore ran his season total to 15 to rank in a tie for sixth on the single-season list. The record is 23 set by Dwight Dasher in 2009.

Middle Tennessee racked up 479 yards of total offense in the win over FAU. The Blue Raiders have now registered more than 450 yards in four straight games for the first time in their FBS era (since 1999). MT had 582 yards at Troy, 477 yards against Memphis and 482 yards against WKU.

RB William Pratcher went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive game when he registered a career-high 125 yards on 23 carries against FAU. It marks Pratcher's second career 100-yard game and he is the first Blue Raider to record back-to-back 100-yard games since D.D. Kyles and Dwight Dasher in 2009. Pratcher has now notched his career-high in rushing for the fourth straight game.

With six catches against FAU, senior Malcolm Beyah reached triple digits for his career. Beyah now has 102 receptions to rank 10th on the all-time list at MT, passing the 100 by Chris Henry (2002-05). Beyah's first quarter touchdown reception was the 13th of his career. That ties him with Mike Pittman and Vince Parks for 8th on the all-time TD receptions list.

North Texas News and Notes

North Texas recorded its third consecutive home win, and reached a 3-1 mark at home for the first time since 2004.

With his 14-yard catch late in the second quarter, Lance Dunbar became just the 25th player in NCAA history to rack up at least 3,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards. After picking up 50 yards against ULM, Dunbar now has 1,014 career receiving yards. Dunbar also tallied 139 rushing yards for his 20th 100-yard rushing performance, just one behind Patrick Cobbs for the most in NT history. He still ranks second in school history in career rushing yards with 3,781, and needs just 269 to tie Cobbs for first in program history (4,050 from 2001-05).

After not scoring a passing touchdown in each of the past two games, the North Texas offense awoke to tally 332 passing yards and three touchdowns against ULM.

Brandon Akpunku recorded a fourth quarter sack to give him 17 career sacks, which passes Brandon Kennedy for seventh in NT history.

The Mean Green defense has now scored a touchdown in back-to-back home games. Julian Herron scooped up a ULM fumble and ran 20-yards for a fourth-quarter fumble return for a touchdown.

North Texas racked up 459 yards of total offense on the Warhawks, which are the most by a ULM opponent in 2011. The previous high was 453 yards by Iowa earlier this year.

Quarterback Derek Thompson eclisped the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career. Thompson piled up 332 yards on 23-of-39 passing. The last Mean Green 300-yard passer was Riley Dodge, who threw for 314 against FIU on Nov. 14, 2009.

Troy News and Notes

Corey Robinson broke a tie with Omar Haugabook and moved to fourth all-time in career passing yards – leaving him just behind Brock Nutter, Sim Byrd and Levi Brown.

The Trojans finished the game with 12 different receivers catching a pass against ULM.

Shawn Southward passed defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell on the rushing touchdown list with 20, moving him into a tie for fourth on the all-time list for the Trojans – tying former players Arrid Gregory and DuJuan Harris.

The last time the Trojans lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and ULM in the same year before this year was in 2005. The Trojans fell to ULM 27-3 on the road and Louisiana-Lafayette 31-28 in Lafayette.

This is the first time since 1951 that the Trojans have lost to either ULM or Louisiana-Lafayette at home, ending a nine-game winning streak. It is only the third time in school history that the Trojans have lost to either team at home.

The largest home losses under head coach Larry Blakeney (by 20 or more points) before tonight were 27-7 to UAB in 2005 and 23-3 against McNeese State in 1998.

The last home loss for the Trojans by more than 20 points under Blakeney was 38-3 to Jacksonville State in 1989.

WKU News and Notes

The Hilltoppers have now won three straight games for the first time since 2007 after a 42-23 Homecoming victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. The victory was also the first home win for WKU since Sept. 20, 2008 – breaking an 18-game home losing streak.

All-American Bobby Rainey rushed 32 times for a season-high 206 yards against the Cajuns. He also had the first three-touchdown game of his career, capping off the victory with a 24-yard scoring run late in the game. His efforts moved him up to third in the nation in rushing, averaging 130 yards per game on the ground. Rainey also moved up two spots on the WKU career rushing list, passing both Dickie Moore and Joe Arnold to take over fourth place on the list.

Junior quarterback Kawaun Jakes completed 15 of 18 passes for a season-high 242 yards in the contest.

Jack Doyle finished with seven receptions for a career-high 106 yards. It was his second 100-yard game in the last three outings as he had 100 receiving yards against Middle Tennessee.

WKU racked up 507 yards of total offense against the Cajuns – the most since piling up 538 yards against North Carolina Central on Oct. 27, 2007.

Freshman tight end Mitchell Henry and sophomore full back Nick Baisch each recorded their first catches in Hilltopper uniforms on Saturday. Henry also hauled in his first career touchdown reception.

Coming in 2012 - South Alabama News and Notes

USA closes out its third season with three straight games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, where the Jags have an all-time mark of 17-0 entering this contest, beginning against Henderson (Ark.) State Saturday. It's the last of three rematches with opponents from a year ago for the Jaguars, who have split two such contests in 2011 — USA beat Lamar for the second straight year at home on Sept. 10, but fell last time out at Georgia State. In last season's meeting between the two schools, USA set a school game record with 542 yards of total offense though the Reddies' 465 yards that day are the most an opponent has gained against the Jags in the program's first 24 games. … FS Charles Harris led USA with a career-best 14 stops at Georgia State while also becoming the second Jag this fall to force two fumbles in a game. It was the fourth straight game that a USA defender has reached double digits in the category, as he became the fifth individual to post 10 or more tackles this season — in the program's first two years only one player (Justin Dunn) had accomplished the feat. … Playing in his hometown, sophomore Clifton Crews tied a career high first set in a win over Milford (N.Y.) Academy on Nov. 7, 2009, with seven tackles, a figure that matched his output the previous three contests combined. Crews also blocked a field-goal attempt for the second week in a row, which helped send the game into a second overtime. … Junior B.J. Scott returned his first kickoff of the season 71 yards to open the GSU game, going on to finish with a school-record 180 yards on five run backs; that also included a 45-yard effort to help set up the Jaguars' game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. On defense, the transfer from Alabama recorded four solo tackles, giving him 25 stops in the last three outings. … Corey Waldon had two of his team-high-tying three receptions on the Jaguars' final drive in regulation — the first went for 13 yards to set up a third-and-one at the GSU-12, the second was a nine-yard touchdown catch with four seconds remaining to tie the game. It was the fourth time this year that the sophomore has led the squad in catches, though the first occasion since the North Carolina State contest on Sept. 17. … Redshirt freshman Kendall Houston once again paced the USA rushing attack, finishing with 83 yards on 17 carries. It was the second straight contest, and fourth occasion this fall, that he has accomplished the feat. Houston's 501 yards this fall account for 45.3 percent of the team's total.