JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The day after winning their first bowl game since 1970, the Arkansas State Red Wolves returned home as GoDaddy.com Bowl champions to a welcome from fans and live on KAIT and kait8.com
The team flew home in two waves from Mobile, the first group pulled into the athletic complex at noon on Monday with the second group rolling in at 4:15 that afternoon. The first bus was mostly freshman players and team personnel but was highlighted by Interim Head Coach John Thompson and new Head Coach Bryan Harsin.
The second bus carried most of the impact players with the exception of Ryan Aplin, who went with his family following the game. Senior Nathan Herrold had the defensive play of the game for the Red Wolves on Sunday with a tip-drill interception in the endzone. "It's great to bring this home to this area, they have broken so many records this season and they deserve it," said Herrold on coming back to a crowd of fans.
The mood was bitter-sweet around the busses as players gathered their belongings and went their separate ways. For a guy like Punter Neely Sullivent, who has been a member of the Arkansas State football team for 6 years, it's a time to reflect on the great things he's seen as a Red Wolf and Indian. "It's been incredible. I've seen so much in my time here and been able to meet so many people and do so much stuff it's just amazing," said Sullivent upon exiting the bus. Sullivent is the last of the Red Wolves who started as Indians to play a game on the field for Arkansas State.
Even though Senior Quarterback Ryan Aplin wasn't present, a guy who knew him well, and was on the other end of many of his touchdown passes said it was has been a fun ride at Arkansas State. "We've seen it go from bottom to top and have done some great things during our time here," said Senior Wide Receiver Taylor Stockemer. Stockemer along with Aplin and the other seniors played for 3 head coaches during their time at A-State and witnessed back-to-back Sun Belt titles for the first time in school history and won a bowl game for the first time at the FBS level.
Even though many were sad to see their final road trip over, the mood was more upbeat than somber. Many of the senior players said it helped to finish what they started and that they look forward to seeing the future of the program.
Arkansas State defeated #25 Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Sunday night by the final score of 17-13. It was the first defeat of a top 25 squad in the history of the school and the first bowl win since the team defeated Central Michigan in the 1970 Pecan Bowl.