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Sun Belt Conference News and Notes

8:59 AM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

ARKANSAS STATE: The Red Wolves scored the first 13 points of the game but were shut out in the second half as they ultimately fell to Western Kentucky, 26-13, snapping their eight-game home winning streak and eight-game conference winning streak in the process. Ryan Aplin passed for 204 yards and ran for another 79, but failed to record a touchdown and he threw an interception. The team's only score of the game came on a Fredi Knighten pass to Anthony Kincy in the second quarter. J.D. McKissic caught eight balls for 79 yards, his fourth straight game with at least six receptions, and David Oku ran the ball 22 times for 79 yards. Arkansas State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt) has a quick turnaround this week, traveling to Miami on Thursday to face FIU.

FIU: The Golden Panthers surrendered the game's first 24 points and could not recover, eventually falling to Louisiana in a 48-20 final. E.J. Hilliard made his first career start in place of the injured Jake Medlock, becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the team since 2002. He did not fare well, completing 16-of-26 passes for 204 yards and a pair of interceptions, although he did add rushing touchdown. FIU (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) also got rushing scores from Jeremiah Harden and Kedrick Rhodes, but as a team it recorded only 55 rushing yards on 34 attempts (1.6 ypc). Wayne Times caught six passes for 48 yards and Willis Wright led the team with 58 yards on just one catch. The defense had no answer for the Cajuns, as the unit did not register a sack or a turnover. FIU has a short week to prepare for Arkansas State on Thursday night.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: although they rallied with a pair of touchdowns late, the Owls fell short in their comeback attempt and lost to North Texas, 20-14 -- their fourth consecutive defeat. After getting shut out for the first 44 minutes, FAU (1-4, 0-2) got a pair of rushing touchdowns from Damian Fortner and Graham Wilbert just over a minute apart, but that was the only offense it could muster. Wilbert completed 21-of-34 passes for 142 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions to go with that rushing score. Fortner led the team with 63 yards rushing, although he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Defensively, Adarius Glanton led the way with 12 tackles and David Hinds was right behind him with 11 tackles, including three for a loss. FAU has off this week, next returning to action at ULM on Oct 13.

LOUISIANA: The Ragin' Cajuns scored the game's first 24 points and eventually rolled to an easy 48-20 win over FIU, giving them their seventh straight home win and sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt (3-1, 2-0). Blaine Gautier threw for 86 yards, ran for 21, and scored a pair of touchdowns, but he left the game with a hand injury. He has played just nine of his team's 16 quarters this season. In his absence, Terrance Broadway did not miss a beat, completing 15-of-19 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 28 yards rushing and two scores. Harry Peoples shined in the receiving game, catching 10 balls for 151 yards, both season-highs, with most of the damage coming on a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Louisiana came into the game ranked sixth in the nation with a plus-six turnover ratio and added two more takeaways thanks to a pair of interceptions. The Cajuns will step out of conference this Saturday to entertain Tulane.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: The Blue Raiders won their third straight game in impressive fashion over the weekend, going on the road to defeat Georgia Tech, 49-28. After going into halftime tied, 21-21, Middle Tennessee (3-1) pulled away by outscoring the Yellow Jackets 28-7 after intermission. Benny Cunningham ran wild on the afternoon, finishing with 217 yards and five touchdowns -- the second-most rushing scores in a game in school history. Logan Kilgore completed 17-of-23 passes for 246 yards, marking the 10th 200-yard passing game of his career. He also threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 75-yard strike to Marcus Henry in the third quarter. The defense sacked Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington four times, two coming from Leighton Gasque. The Blue Raiders will return to their Sun Belt Conference slate this Saturday afternoon when they host ULM.

NORTH TEXAS: Behind a stout defensive effort, the Mean Green held on to defeat the Florida Atlantic Owls over the weekend, 20-14. Brelan Chancellor hauled in six balls for 135 yards and a touchdown to lead the offensive attack. It was his second straight 100-yard receiving game and his third of the season. Derek Thompson completed 18-of-30 passes for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The aerial attack helped overcome a lackluster rushing effort, as the team compiled just 56 yards on the ground. On top of picking off two passes and recovering a fumble, the defense also sacked FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert five times. North Texas (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they play at Houston this Saturday night.

SOUTH ALABAMA: In their first-ever game in the Sun Belt, the Jaguars fell to Troy, 31-10. After the USA defense looked sharp in previous weeks, the unit struggled against the Trojans, allowing 495 yards of total offense. The team's quarterbacks did very little to help pick up the slack. C.J. Bennett started the game and completed just 2-of-10 passes for 22 yards with an interception, although he did lead the club with 79 rushing yards. Ross Metheny saw plenty of time as well, but he didn't look much better (6-of-10, 37 yards, INT). Demetre Baker tallied 62 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Despite its struggles with yardage, the defense made an impact in the turnover battle, coming up with two fumbles and three interceptions. South Alabama (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) will have to wait for an Oct. 13 date with Arkansas State for another chance at its first conference win.

TROY: Behind a four-turnover effort by its defense, Troy cruised to a 31-10 win over South Alabama. The unit allowed just 252 total yards to the Jaguars, including a mere 59 though the air. The Trojans (3-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) won despite Corey Robinson (15-of-24, 223 yards, no TDs, three interceptions) having arguably his worst game of the season. Robinson did manage to contribute on the scoreboard with a two-yard touchdown run. Deon Anthony attempted three passes under center, completing all three for 58 yards and a touchdown. Chandler Worthy hauled in five balls for 48 yards and a score, while Shawn Southward gained 86 yards on 17 carries. The Trojans have a bye this week and will return to action on Oct. 11 at home against Western Kentucky.

ULM: After suffering back-to-back losses to Auburn and Baylor, ULM (2-2) got back on the winning track in a big way by defeating Tulane this past Saturday, 63-10. The Warhawks offense was on point, piling up 553 total yards. Kolton Browning was once again impressive, completing 15-of-21 passes for 253 yards and three scores, surpassing 6,000 career passing yards in the process. They also gained 222 yards on the ground, paced by DeVonte McNeal's 114 yards and a touchdown. Jyruss Edwards added 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The defense got into the scoring act as well, as R.J. Young returned an interception 49 yards before fumbling, but it was recovered by Ray Stovall for a touchdown. Darius Lively added a pick-six later in the game. ULM will finally kick off its Sun Belt schedule this Saturday when it travels to Murfreesboro to take on 3-1 Middle Tennessee.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: The Hilltoppers got off to a slow start by getting blanked in the first half, but scored 26 unanswered points after intermission to claim a 26-13 victory over Arkansas State, giving them their eighth straight conference victory dating back to last season. Antonio Andrews' spectacular season reached new heights as he rushed for a career-best 215 yards and a touchdown on 29 of the team's 41 carries. Kawaun Jakes completed just 3-of-7 passes before leaving the game in the first half due to injury, but James Mauro stepped in the connect on 8-of-12 attempts for 104 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Mitchell Henry (four catches, 43 yards). A stout second-half defensive effort was anchored by Quanterus Smith, who recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and a career-high 3.5 sacks. WKU (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) is idle this week, next hitting the field at Troy on Oct. 11.

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