Sun Belt Conference Football news and notes

From the Sun Belt Conference

Upcoming Games

November 19

* Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee - 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

* Florida Atlantic at Troy - 2:30 p.m.

* FIU at Louisiana-Monroe - 4 p.m.

* Western Kentucky at North Texas - 6 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

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

Recent Results

November 12

* North Texas 38, Troy 33 - 12 p.m. (Sun Belt Network)

* Arkansas State 30, Louisiana-Lafayette 21- 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

* Louisiana-Monroe 42, Middle Tennessee 14 - 2:30 p.m.

* FIU 41, Florida Atlantic 7 - 5 p.m.

#1 LSU 42, Western Kentucky 9 - 6 p.m. (ESPNU)

Sun Belt News and Notes

ASU Remains Perfect in SBC Play by Topping Cajuns

After an impressive home win against Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State remains perfect in Sun Belt Conference play with a 6-0 record. The Red Wolves now boast a 8-2 mark on the season.

With a victory in either one of its final two Sun Belt Conference games, ASU can secure at least a share of the league championship. The Red Wolves can also become the fifth team in Sun Belt history to go undefeated in league play should they win the remainder of their games.

While the Cajuns dropped Saturday's contest, they have finished league play with their best ever record of 6-2. Additionally, ULL has already recorded 8 wins on the season. The Cajuns and Arkansas State became just the 12th teams in the 11 year history of the Sun Belt Conference to reach the eight win plateau. The Cajuns and Red Wolves are also now just two of 24 teams nationally to have already reached eight wins on the season.

Elsewhere around the league, FIU reached bowl eligible status for the second consecutive year. The Panthers earned their sixth win of the season with a win over rival FAU in the Shula Bowl.

WKU and North Texas will play in this Saturday's Sun Belt Network Game of the Week with both still having an opportunity to become bowl eligible.

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

Offensive Player of the Week

Derek Thompson (North Texas, So., QB)

Thompson set a North Texas single-game record by completing 82 percent of his passes – going 31-of-38 to lead North Texas to its first win ever at Troy. It was the fifth-best single-game completion percentage by an FBS quarterback with a minimum of 30 attempts this season. Thompson was responsible for three touchdowns in the game - two passing and one rushing and had a pass efficiency rating of 166.9. He threw for 331 yards and had 16 yards rushing for a total of 347 yards. Thompson completed 17 consecutive passes in the game – just six shy of an NCAA record. He also became just the third player in school history to have two, 300-yard passing games over a three-game stretch. Thompson averaged 10.6 yards per completion in the game. His touchdown passes came from 28 and 46 yards and his touchdown run came from 15 yards.

Defensive Player of the Week

Brandon Joiner (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)

Senior defensive end Brandon Joiner tied an Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference record with four sacks, and he also tied his personal career high with a team-best eight tackles in ASU's 30-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Joiner became the third ASU player and seventh Sun Belt player to ever post four sacks in a game. His four sacks total ties the most in the nation this season, joining four other players to post four in a game. Joiner recorded a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry as well. He was part of an ASU defense that limited the Ragin' Cajuns to 314 yards total offense, 70 yards under their season average, and forced five turnovers. Joiner has now posted at least a partial sack in all but two games this year, and his 10 total on the season moves him into a tie for the fifth most in ASU history and a tie for the 10th most in Sun Belt history.

Special Teams Player of the Week

T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Sr., WR/PR/KR)

T.Y. Hilton showed why he is considered one of the most dangerous return men in the game, burning Florida Atlantic for a back-breaking 97-yard punt return for touchdown. The punt return is the longest in FIU history, second-longest in Sun Belt history, and makes Hilton the first FIU player, and just the third in Sun Belt history, with two or more punt returns for touchdown.

Arkansas State News and Notes

ASU's eight victories are its most ever as an FBS member and its most at any level since 1987. It's eight victories are also its most through 10 games since 1986 . . . ASU's seven-game winning streak is its longest since 1986 . . . ASU improved to 5-0 at ASU Stadium this season and has won at least five home games for the first time since 2007 . . . With a victory in either one of its final two Sun Belt Conference games, A-State can secure at least a share of the league championship . . . ASU will carry a three-game road winning streak into this week's game against Middle Tennessee, its longest since 1986 . . . Senior DE Brandon Joiner recorded a career-high four sacks, which also ties the most in Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference history . . . Junior QB Ryan Aplin became just the second player in Sun Belt history to record over 3,000 yards total offense in two different seasons, and he also became the league's fifth all-time leader in career passing yards . . . Arkansas State intercepted a season-high four passes against Louisiana-Lafayette and has now posted at least one pick in eight consecutive games.

Florida Atlantic News and Notes

Alfred Morris needed 22 yards, entering the game, to become FAU's all-time leading rusher. The senior from Pensacola, FL had recorded 16 yards after seven carries. On his eighth carry of the game Morris dashed for 24 yards to take the record. Morris ended the night with 110 yards. The 100+ yard game was the 14th of his FAU career. He is now 55 yards shy of the FAU career all-purpose record.

Marcus Cunningham saw his first action since October 15 versus WKU after recovering from a leg injury. Cunningham had his first reception since October 8, versus UNT. He also scored his first collegiate TD.

Derek Moise recorded his first collegiate start.

Martin Wright drew his first start of the season at linebacker. Wright had a career high seven tackles on the day.

Mickey Groody's first punt of the game was a 58-yarder. Groody has had a 50+ yard punt in 18 of his last 21 games.

DB Winfred Strickland saw his first action of the 2011 season after recovering from a foot injury. Strickland had one tackle.

FIU News and Notes

FIU defeated Florida Atlantic for just the second time in the rivalry's 10-game history, rolling the Owls 41-7 in Shula Bowl X.

T.Y. Hilton showed why he is considered one of the most dangerous return men in the game, burning Florida Atlantic for a back-breaking 97-yard punt return for touchdown. The punt return is the longest in FIU history, second-longest in Sun Belt history, and makes Hilton the first FIU player, and just the third in Sun Belt history, with two or more punt returns for touchdown.

Kendrick Rhodes continued his stellar season for FIU, rushing for 122 yards against Florida Atlantic. The sophomore back scored one touchdown and also caught three passes for 36 yards. On the season, Rhodes has rushed for 926 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging five yards-per-carry.

Senior kicker Michael Cal registered his first-career point, kicking an extra point with 3:50 left in the game. Cal is the only player to win a Shula Bowl, Sun Belt Conference title and the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl championship with two different teams. Cal previously played for FAU.

Justin Halley showed he has a great nose for the football, coming up with a pair of interceptions against the Owls. Both interceptions ended potential scoring drives for FAU as the first one was on the FIU 25 and the second came on the Panthers' 34-yard line. He also had a pair of tackles, one of them for a loss. Halley is the first FIU player with two interceptions since Kreg Brown had two in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Freshman Richard Leonard made his first-career interception in the first quarter, returning it 56 yards and setting up FIU's first score of the game.

Louisiana-Lafayette News and Notes

The Cajuns fell to Arkansas State on Saturday by a final of 30-21 after coming back from a 17-point deficit to take a 21-20 lead.

ULL had a season high five turnovers in the contest including four interceptions by the Cajuns quarterbacks.

Junior Blaine Gautier overcame a slow start to post 206 yards passing with two touchdowns and led the Cajuns on the ground with 53 yards.

Alonzo Harris also had over 100 yards of total offense, leading the team with 81 yards on six catches while posting 21 yards on the ground.

Ladarius Green needs four touchdowns to tie Brandon Stokley for the Louisiana career receiving touchdown record.

At 8-3, head coach Mark Hudspeth has the most wins by any ULL first year head coach eclipsing Sam Robertson's seven wins in 1980.

After a bye week, the Cajuns are slated to close out the regular season on the road against Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. on Nov. 26.

Louisiana-Monroe News and Notes

Luther Ambrose's 59-yard kickoff return to open the game was his fifth of 40 or more yards this season. Ambrose's long was a 100-yard touchdown at North Texas Oct. 22. Ambrose moved into eighth place in single-season kickoff return yardage (659).

Kolton Browning's 3-yd touchdown run in the first quarter was his third of the season and the seventh of his career. Browning moved into sixth place in single-season completions (202) and tied Robert Cobb and Stan Humphries for sixth all-time in career touchdown passes (29). Browning completed nine of his first 10 passes, the best percentage to start a game in his career.

The Warhawks have scored on their first possession in four games this season, including two straight contests.

ULM has forced a punt or a turnover on its first defensive drive in eight of 10 games. Five such drives have been three-and-outs.

The Warhawks have recorded a takeaway in 30-of-34 games under defensive coordinator Troy Reffett.

Vincent Eddie logged his second interception of the season in the first quarter, picking off Logan Kilgore along the home sideline.

Brent Leonard's 12-yd touchdown catch in the first quarter marked the 22nd straight game he has recorded a reception.

ULM now holds a 56-14 scoring advantage over opponents in the first quarter in 2011. It was the first time in the Sun Belt Era that the Warhawks scored on five straight possessions to begin a game.

Je'Ron Hamm's 50-yd touchdown reception was his first of the season and the longest catch of his career. Hamm set a personal-best with four catches for 91 yards.

Middle Tennessee News and Notes

With two touchdown passes against ULM, quarterback Logan Kilgore ran his season total to 18. The 18 touchdown passes moved Kilgore past Wes Counts (17 in 2001) for third most in a single season. Kilgore now has 21 TD passes for his career.

WR Tavarres Jefferson, the team's second leading receiver, found the end zone for the first time this season when he scored in the third quarter. Jefferson took a short pass from Logan Kilgore, shook off a tackler and jumped into the end zone for his fourth career touchdown reception. Jefferson finished the game with a career-high nine receptions.

WR Sancho McDonald became the 12th receiver in school history to reach the 100-catch mark when he grabbed three passes for 28 yards against ULM. The senior now has 102 career receptions to rank 11th on the all-time list at MT. McDonald's second quarter TD was the 11th of his career.

With 148 passing yards today against ULM, quarterback Logan Kilgore went over the 2,000-yard mark for the season. Kilgore becomes just the ninth player in school history to have 2,000 or more yards passing in a single-season. Kilgore now has 2,042 yards on the season.

Gorby Loreus recorded the first blocked kick of his career when he rejected a ULM punt in the third quarter. It marked the fifth blocked kick of the season for the Blue Raiders and the 25th in 72 games under Rick Stockstill. Loreus is the fifth player this season to register their first career blocked kick.

North Texas News and Notes

North Texas forced and recovered a Troy fumble in the first quarter, making this the 15th straight game that the Mean Green has created at least one turnover.

Wide receiver Ivan Delgado had career highs with nine receptions and 89 yards in North Texas' win over Troy.

Wide receiver Chris Bynes had a career-high 134 yards receiving against Troy, the best single-game performance by a Mean Green player since 2008.

North Texas was 3-of-3 in red zone opportunities against Troy after coming into the game ranked last in the Sun Belt with a red zone success rate of just 58 percent.

Quarterback Derek Thompson set a North Texas record by completing 82 percent of his passes (31-of-38). He also had a career-high in pass completions with 31 breaking his previous best of 23 which he set vs. Louisiana-Monroe earlier this season. He also fell just one yard short of a career high with 331 passing yards.

The 503 yards of offense was the most by a North Texas team since it had 513 vs. FIU in 2009.

This was the first time North Texas has ever won at Troy, losing the previous four meetings.

North Texas won its fourth game of the season which is the most wins in a season since 2004 when the Mean Green won the Sun Belt championship and went to the New Orleans Bowl.

Troy News and Notes

For the second straight week, the Troy offense fumbled on its opening possession with the turnover leading to an opponent touchdown.

Corey Robinson scampered in from four yards out in the first quarter for the first rushing TD of his career.

Troy's next touchdown was one worthy of SportCenter's Top 10. Robinson's pass from 31 yards out to Eric Thomas on the North Texas sideline hit a Mean Green defender in the chest before finding Thomas' outstretched arm on the sideline. Thomas maintained control of the ball as he scampered into the endzone for a Troy score.

The Trojans third TD of the first half marked B.J. Chitty's first TD reception of his career. The following PAT gave the Trojans a 21-17 lead and marked the most points by Troy in the first half this year.

Eric Thomas caught his second touchdown pass of the game in third quarter. That TD catch was his seventh of the season. That is the third most in Troy's FBS history. Heyward Skipper is the record holder with nine TD grabs in 2001.

Felton Payton's fourth quarter TD reception was the first of his career as the TD pass was Robinson's fourth of the game, tying a career high.

For just the second time under head coach Larry Blakeney, the Trojans have lost consecutive home games. They are now 4-1 against North Texas at home and still haven't lost to a team twice at home.

The Trojans have now lost five in a row for the first time under Blakeney and the first time since 1982.

WKU News and Notes

WKU played the number one team in the country for the first time in its history on Saturday, and trailed LSU just 14-7 at halftime.

Keshawn Simpson's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:26 remaining in the opening quarter represented the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by LSU this season. The Tigers came in allowing just 12 first-quarter points in 2011. Simpson's first-quarter touchdown was the first of his career.

Bobby Rainey finished with 28 carries for 85 net yards. Only Alabama's Trent Richardson (89) has rushed for more yards against LSU this season. Rainey was at 102 net yards late in the game before his final carry went for a 17-yard loss.

Bo Adebayo's sack for a safety was the second two-point play by the Hilltopper defense this season. Andrew Jackson had a top in the end zone in WKU's victory at Middle Tennessee.

Kiante Young finished with a season-high 11 tackles to lead WKU. That fell two shy of his career best – 13 tackles at Florida International on Oct. 9, 2010.

With five catches, Jack Doyle now has at least five catches in four games this season.

Antonio Andrews' 73-yard kickoff return marked the fourth kick return of over 70 yards for the Hilltoppers this season. Andrews also had a 75-yard return against Navy, while John Evans has returns of 90 yards (for a touchdown) at Middle Tennessee and 79 at Louisiana-Monroe.

WKU's offense was on the field for 35 minutes and 55 seconds in the contest. The Hilltoppers have accumulated over 35 minutes of offense in five of 10 games this season — all five coming in the last six contests.

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.