Sun Belt Conference Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Upcoming Games

November 12

* North Texas at Troy - 12 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

* Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State - 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

* Middle Tennessee at Louisiana-Monroe - 2:30 p.m.

* Florida Atlantic at FIU - 5 p.m.

Western Kentucky at LSU - 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

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

Recent Results

November 5

Navy 42, Troy 14 - 2:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

* Louisiana-Lafayette 36, Louisiana-Monroe 35 - 2:30 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

* Western Kentucky 10, FIU 9 - 3 p.m.

* Arkansas State 39, Florida Atlantic 21 - 3 p.m.

Tennessee 24, Middle Tennessee 0 - 6 p.m.

Sun Belt News and Notes

ASU, ULL , WKU Continue Winning Ways; Red Wolves-Cajuns Set for Showdown

In dramatic style, Louisiana-Lafayette won its league leading eighth game of the season after trailing by 11 points with just over three minutes remaining against Louisiana-Monroe.

The Cajuns became just the 11th team in the 11 year history of the Sun Belt Conference to reach the eight win plateau. The Cajuns are also now just one of 14 teams nationally to have already reached eight wins on the season.

Not to be outdone, Arkansas State remained perfect in Sun Belt Conference play by advancing to 5-0 in league play and moving to 7-2 overall on the season with its win over Florida Atlantic.

The showdown of the Red Wolves and Cajuns is set for Saturday with an ESPN3 broadcast.

WKU, meanwhile, rattled off its fifth consecutive win of the season by defeating FIU on a last second Casey Tinius field goal. WKU senior running back Bobby Rainey became just the second Hilltopper ever – and third player in Sun Belt Conference history – to rush for 4,000 career yards. His 155 rushing yards against FIU on Saturday moved him to 4,016 for his career, and pushed him past current WKU head coach Willie Taggart into second on the school career list. He needs 381 yards to become WKU's career rushing leader.

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

Offensive Player of the Week

Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)

Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin accounted for five touchdowns in leading ASU to a 39-21 victory on the road at FAU Saturday. Aplin rushed for 49 yards and four touchdowns and completed 24-of-37 passes for 244 yards and another score. His four rushing touchdowns are the most for any player in the Sun Belt this season and his five overall touchdowns are tied for the most. Aplin completed passes to eight different receivers in the game and his 244 yards passing pushed him over the 6,000-yard mark for his career, making him just the third ASU quarterback to reach the milestone. Ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference and 12th nationally at 313 yards per game, Aplin led the ASU offense to 429 yards of total offense against the Owls. Aplin helped the ASU offense reach at least 300 yards for the 20th time in its last 20 games, and has the Red Wolves ranked first in total offense in the league.

Defensive Player of the Week

Devon Lewis-Buchanan (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., LB)

Lewis-Buchanan had a career-high 12 tackles including 11 solo tackles in the 36-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe. He also had 3.0 tackles-for-loss and pass break up in the win. Lewis-Buchanan stepped up his play in the second half posting eight tackles and 2.0 TFL.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Brett Baer (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr., K)

With the Cajuns trailing 35-24 to Louisiana-Monroe with 3:08 remaining in the contest, everyone knew ULL would have to score a quick touchdown and convert on the onside kick. Brett Baer and the Cajuns did just that as Baer executed the onside kick to perfection allowing Ladarius Green to recover the kick at the ULM 39 to set up the game-winning score. Baer also posted his fifth kick of 40-plus yards after drilling a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Ragin' Cajuns a 24-14 lead going into the half, while also serving as the team's punter for the 10th consecutive contest.

Arkansas State News and Notes

A]State now holds its best record through 9 games since 1986 when it was 7]1]1 as a member of the NCAA I]AA Southland Conference. ASU holds a 5]0 conference record for the first time since 1986 when it finished the season 5]0 in the Southland Conference.

ASU has its first six]game winning streak since 1986 when it won eight in a row. ASU's 7 victories are its most ever as an FBS member and its most at any level since 1987.

ASU now has 3 road victories in the same season for the first time since 2006.

ASU has now won five games by a double]figure margin this season, including the last three in a row by 18 or more points. The last time ASU won five games by a double]figure margin was 1987.

Hugh Freeze now has the most victories ever by a HC in his first season at ASU with 7.

Arkansas State has now scored at least 30 points in five games this season, including the last 3 in a row.

Arkansas State recorded over 300 yards of total offense for the 20th time over the last 21 games.

Sr. RB Derek Lawson recorded a career]high 20 rushing attempts for a season]high 91 rushing yards.

Jr. QB Ryan Aplin became the third player in school history to record over 6,000 passing yards in a career. Aplin recorded a career]high four rushing TD's, topping his previous high of two set five times before. His 4 TD's also tie the third most in school history in a single game. He was responsible for 5 TD's, which tied his career high.

Florida Atlantic News and Notes

Florida Atlantic University's football team built a three-point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter but could not hold back Arkansas State University's offense who scored 21 unanswered points to take the game and hold on to the Sun Belt Conference lead.

FAU senior Alfred Morris had a career night tallying 163 yards the second most yards the Pensacola, FL native has tallied in a game. The night also included his 25th and 26th career touchdowns which put him at the top of FAU's all-time career list for touchdowns. Morris entered the game needing 185 yards to become the all-time rushing yards leader. He is now 22 yards away from the mark. Fellow senior Willie Floyd entered the week five shy of FAU's all-time kick return record. Floyd had two returns for a total of 25 yards.

Defensively, the Owls were led by junior linebacker David Hinds who recorded a game and career high 16 tackles. He was supported by fellow linebacker Randell Johnson who had two sacks and seven tackles. Defensive lineman Jamere Johnson and David Baptiste who turned in a career high eight tackles each. Marcus Bartels had six tackles and added his second interception of the season and fifth of his career. The Broward County native is now listed fourth all-time on the FAU career interception yards returned list at 131.

FAU's next two games will be on the road. The first road games since October 8. The Owls will first travel to FIU for a 6 p.m., November 12 match-up. FAU is 8-1 against FIU with the Panthers lone victory, 2005, being vacated. FAU will then travel to Troy for a 3:30 p.m. November 19th contest.

FIU News and Notes

Coming off a last-second loss to WKU, FIU will look to bounce back as it hosts Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 12 in Shula Bowl X. The Panthers are just 1-9 all-time against the Owls, the only victory coming in 2005 when FIU set an NCAA record with four interception returns for touchdowns. Against the Owls, FIU will look to become bowl-eligible for just the second time in program history.

Jack Griffin tied a career-best with three field goals against the WKU Hilltoppers, giving him 18 for the season, which breaks his own FIU single-season record of 17 set in 2010. Griffin broke the record with a 43-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter that gave FIU a 9-7 lead. The Panther kicker currently leads the country with 18 field goals, one ahead of Florida's Caleb Sturgis and Texas A&M's Randy Bullock.

With his 58 yard kickoff return in the first quarter, T.Y. Hilton became the Sun Belt Conference's all-time leader in kickoff return yards, surpassing Arkansas State's Brandon Thompkins. He finished the game with 2,698 kickoff return yards for his career.

Against WKU, junior linebacker Jordan Hunt had his best game as a Panther tying a career-high with 11 tackles, including a career-best three for loss and one sack.

Sophomore cornerback Sam Miller picked off a pass against the Hilltoppers, giving him interceptions in back-to-back games after not having one previously in his young career.

Louisiana-Lafayette News and Notes

The Cajuns rallied to score 12 unanswered points to defeat Lousiana-Monroe 36-35. Trailing 35-24 with 3:08 left, the Cajuns pulled within five points after a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darryl Surgent. The team then completed the comeback after the team's second successful onside kick of the season and a three-yard Alonzo Harris touchdown.

ULL has posted eight wins for the first time since 1976 when the Ragin' Cajuns finished the year with a 9-2 overall record. The Cajuns also went undefeated at home for the first time since 1987.

Head coach Mark Hudspeth became the first ULL head coach to post eight wins in his first season with the Ragin' Cajuns.

Senior Ladarius Green posted his third two-touchdown performance in the last four weeks after breaking the Cajun Field record for receptions by a ULL receiver with 13 for a career-best 136 yards. The 13 catches is also a Sun Belt Conference record for receptions by a tight end. Green made the play of the game after coming up with the recovery of the onside kick late in the fourth quarter.

Javone Lawson became the second Cajuns receiver to post two 100-yard games on the year after tallying 110-yards and a touchdown on seven catches.

Linebacker Devon Lewis-Buchanan had a career-high 12 tackles including 11 solo tackles in the 36-35 win over La.-Monroe. He also had 3.0 tackles-for-loss and pass break up.

Quarterback Blaine Gautier threw for 300-plus yards for the third time this season and recorded his second game with four TD passes (10/15 vs. North Texas).

The Cajuns turn their attention to Arkansas State this week as they head to Jonesboro, Ark. for game that will more than likely decide the Sun Belt Conference champion. ULL holds a 6-3 edge in the all-time series against the Red Wolves having won the last three meetings between the two teams.

Louisiana-Monroe News and Notes

Darius Prelow started his 23rd consecutive game at safety, the longest starts streak by any current Warhawk player.

The Warhawks have registered multiple rushing touchdowns in six of nine games. ULM has scored at least one touchdown on the ground in all nine games this season.

Kolton Browning's 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest play from scrimmage for the Warhawks this season. The rush was also a career-long for Browning, eclipsing a 24-yard carry against Arkansas State Oct. 8. The Browning score was the longest run for the Warhawks since Kinsmon Lancaster registered a 74-yard pickup Nov. 8, 2008 against Middle Tennessee, and the longest touchdown since Calvin Dawson's 62-yard run Nov. 3, 2007, also against Middle Tennessee. Browning finished the game with a personal-best 33 completions for 258 yards and a touchdown, passing Stan Humphries for sixth all-time in career passing yards (4,413). He added a career-high 91 yards rushing.

Luther Ambrose's six catches moved him past Drouzon Quillen for seventh place on the all-time receptions list (126). Ambrose has registered a catch in 29 of the past 33 games. Ambrose extended his career lead in kickoff return yardage to 2,329.

Jyruss Edwards' three touchdown runs upped his total to six for the season, surpassing the four he tallied as a freshman in 2010. Edwards is the first ULM rusher to score multiple touchdowns on the ground since Browning ran for a pair Oct. 30, 2010 against Troy. The three touchdown runs were the most for ULM since Frank Goodin did it against FIU (Oct.3, 2009).

Brent Leonard moved past Jackie Harris (1989), Darrell McNeal (2007), Vincent Brisby (1992) and Stepfret Williams (1994) into eighth place in single-season receptions (59).

Khairi Usher's fourth quarter interception marked the 29th game the Warhawks have forced a turnover under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett.

Middle Tennessee News and Notes

Freshman Leighton Gasque recorded his team-leading sixth sack late in the second quarter when he dropped UT's Justin Worley. The six sacks now tie for the seventh-most in a single-season at MT. Gasque, who only plays on definite third down passing situations, now has at least one sack in four straight games.

With three receptions against Tennessee, Malcolm Beyah moved past Demetric Mostiller and Herbert Owenby for fifth place on the all-time list. Beyah now has 112 career receptions and needs five more to pass Patrick Honeycutt for fourth.

With 25 passing yards against Tennessee, QB Logan Kilgore cracked the single-season top 10 list for passing yardage. Kilgore now has 1,894 yards this season to rank 10th. He needs 24 more yards to overtake Clint Marks for ninth place.

North Texas News and Notes

Lance Dunbar moved past Patrick Cobbs with his 37th all-time rushing touchdown. Dunbar is now the all-time leader at North Texas in career rushing touchdowns.

Dunbar needs only 129 more rushing yards to become only the sixth player in NCAA history to have 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Dunbar is only 180 away from becoming the all-time leading rusher at North Texas.

Freshman QB Andrew McNulty had a career-long 34 yard run, which is the longest rush by a North Texas quarterback since 2009. McNulty also had a career-best in completions, attempts, and he threw his first career touchdown pass.

Ryan Downing recorded a career-high 16 tackles, which is also a season-high for a North Texas defender this season.

Richard Abbe had his first career interception against Arkansas State. Abbe's pick was the first by a North Texas defensive lineman since 2007.

North Texas did not win the time of possession battle for the first time this season against Arkansas State.

Troy News and Notes

With his 18 yards passing on the first drive, Corey Robinson surpassed the 2,000 yard mark for the season

With seven tackles in the first quarter, Kannoris Davis broke the 100 mark for his career. Davis was injured at the end of the first half and didn't return, but still finished the contest with 11 total tackles, bringing his career total to 109. Ten of his stoops were of the solo variety

On their first two drives of the game, Troy picked up five first downs. On the next four drives they picked up zero. The Trojans only first down of the second quarter came on the final play of the half when Jamie Hampton completed a 13-yard pass to Eric Thomas

The 35 points that Troy surrendered in the first half tied for the most the Trojans have given up in a half this season. ULM also scored 35 against the Trojans, but in the second half.

The 35-point halftime deficit is the largest since the Trojans trailed by 49 at South Carolina last season. That score was 56-7 at the break.

Troy's 15-play scoring drive to open the second half was the longest drive of the year in terms of plays. The drive was the first of 10 or more since the Louisiana-Lafayette game.

The Trojans did not force a turnover in the game, marking the first time since the North Texas game a season ago that the Trojans failed to force a turnover.

The Trojans gave up five rushing touchdowns on the day, the most since Florida also rushed for five scores in 2007.

WKU News and Notes

WKU stretched its winning streak to five games with a dramatic, last-second 10-9 victory over Florida International on Saturday. Senior Casey Tinius hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Hilltoppers the one-point win. Three of WKU's five victories during the streak have come in the "walk-off" variety. It scored a touchdown on the final possession of a second overtime to defeat Middle Tennessee for the first win of the season, and got a Jesse Roy field goal in overtime last week at ULM to win by three.

WKU's five-game streak is the longest since it closed out the 2004 regular season with five straight wins, earning a spot in the I-AA playoffs.

The win also pushed WKU's record to 5-4 on the year, marking the first time the Hilltoppers have been over the .500 mark since becoming a bowl-eligible FBS member in 2009.

Senior running back Bobby Rainey became just the second Hilltopper ever – and third player in Sun Belt Conference history – to rush for 4,000 career yards. His 155 rushing yards against FIU on Saturday moved him to 4,016 for his career, and pushed him past current WKU head coach Willie Taggart into second on the school career list. He needs 381 yards to become WKU's career rushing leader.

Rainey collected 84 of his 155 yards in the fourth quarter of Saturday's win, and also hauled in a key 12-yard reception on third down on the final drive, leading to the game-winning field goal.

WKU limited Florida International to just 180 yards off offense on Saturday, and only 52 rushing yards on 27 carries. The Hilltopper defense has now held an opponent under 100 rushing yards five times this season.

WKU will step out of conference one last time this season, taking on top-ranked LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge. It will be the first time the Hilltoppers have ever faced the #1 team in the nation.

Coming in 2012 - South Alabama News and Notes

After defeating Mississippi Valley State 35-3 Thursday, USA has now held consecutive opponents without a touchdown for the first time since Edward Waters (Fla.) and Kentucky Wesleyan failed to reach the end zone on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 last year. … For the second straight game, the Jag defense surrendered its lowest amount of total offense to the opposition — the Delta Devils managed just 166 yards on 73 snaps, including only 67 yards passing … True freshman J.J. Keels finished the night with 170 all-purpose yards after entering play with 61 rushing yards in five games. He ran back the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown, had a 45-yard punt return to set up the Jags' first score and finished as the team's leading rusher with 48 yards on eight carries. … Kendall Houston scored on a pair of one-yard runs in the first half, the third time this season he has recorded multiple touchdowns in the same game. … Charles Harris posted a game-best 12 stops to lead the unit — including one for loss — while also forcing a fumble, and Ben Giles recorded a career-high nine tackles to lead the USA defense. … Ten individuals contributed to nine stops behind the line of scrimmage that resulted in a loss of 49 yards for the MVSU offense…. Myles Gibbon closed out the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown to Greg Hollinger with five minutes left in the third quarter; the second-half touchdowns scored by Keels and Hollinger were the first of their careers. … OLB/S Ken Barefield tied career highs with 1½ tackles for loss and a sack among his six total stops against the Delta Devils. … Alonzo Long, filling in for the injured B.J. Scott, recorded a career-best five total tackles, and he also accounted for the Jags' only takeaway with a fumble recovery he returned nine yards in the third quarter. … The Jaguars have now won all four games in school history played on Thursday night.