Arkansas State (8-3, 6-1) spoiled Troy's (5-6, 3-4) homecoming with a 41-34 win at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday as senior quarterback Ryan Aplin rewrote the Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference record books.
A-State put up 595 yards of total offense, with 454 of those yards coming from Aplin to break his old school record of 442 yards set against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2010. Aplin, who also broke the Sun Belt Conference record for career passing yards, finished the game with 369 yards through the air to run his four-year total to 10,112 yards. Aplin added a season-high 85 yards on the ground for the Red Wolves.
The win extended ASU's conference road winning streak to eight games and breaks the old record of seven set from 1973-75 in the Southland Conference. Arkansas State also has six straight overall and conference wins with its record now standing at 8-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play. Troy dropped to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in conference play.
Senior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer set a record of his own with his 16th career touchdown reception, passing John Koldus (15 touchdown catches from 1950-52) for the record. Stockemer's final total was six receptions for 117 yards, both season highs, and one touchdown.
Freshman J.D. McKissic also had a huge day for the Red Wolves, tying his own career high for receptions with 12 that he took for a career-high 138 yards and one touchdown. Junior running back David Oku accounted for three touchdowns as well. He finished with 20 carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns and one reception for 43 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Nathan Herrold led the way with ten tackles and one sack.
Arkansas State received the opening kickoff and proceeded to march down the field for the opening score. Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin found junior wide receiver Julian Jones in the corner of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown strike.
A couple of drives later Troy took a 7-6 lead on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Corey Robinson to Chip Reeves. The Red Wolves wasted little time retaking the lead as Aplin found McKissic on a 31-yard touchdown pass.
Troy regained the lead 14-13 after a one-yard touchdown run by Deon Anthony early in the second quarter. A 19-yard field goal from Will Scott stretched the Troy lead to 17-13, but Aplin found Stockemer on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left to give ASU a 20-17 lead going into halftime.
Troy took the opening kickoff of the second half and cashed in on an 18-yard field goal from Scott to tie the game at 20-20. Aplin found junior running back David Oku open down the sideline for a 43-yard touchdown on the very next drive to give the Red Wolves a 27-20 lead with 9:11 left in the third quarter.
After a Troy field goal cut the score to 27-23, ASU responded with a five-yard touchdown run from Oku to put the score at 34-23 heading into the final quarter. Troy cut the ASU lead to three when defensive back Brynden Trawick stepped in front of an Aplin pass and took it 70 yards for the score.
The Trojans went for two and were successful when Anthony connected with wide receiver Justin Albert to set the score at 34-31 with 10:23 left in the game.
ASU didn't skip a beat on the next drive, as Oku was able to pound into the end zone with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Red Wolves a 41-31 lead. Oku had six carries for 58 yards on the drive, including a 40-yard run to the three-yard line.
Troy was able to add another field goal to cut the lead to 41-34, but the Red Wolves were able to run out the clock and capture the win.
WHAT'S AHEAD: With the win verses Troy, Arkansas State has set itself up for a winner-take-all Sun Belt championship game at home against Middle Tennessee State in the regular season finale on Dec. 1.
ASU extended its Sun Belt Conference road winning streak to eight games, its longest ever as a member of any league. ASU extended its overall and Sun Belt Conference winning streak to six games.
ASU has won 14 of its last 15 conference games dating back to the 2011 season, including its last six in a row. ASU claimed its 18th victory since the start of the 2011 season, its most over a 2-year span since 1974-75.
ASU has now won at least eight games in a season for the 12th time in school history and will finish the year with at least six Sun Belt Conference wins for the second time ever (eight in 2011).
Keep An Eye On: Junior WR Julian Jones recorded his team-leading 6th TD reception. He has now recorded one TD reception in each of the last four games and six of his 12 total receptions have gone for scores.
Looking Good: The ASU offense recorded over 300 yards for the 34th time over its last 36 games, over 400 yards for the eighth time this year and over 500 for the sixth time. With 41 points tonight, ASU has now scored at least 30 in nine games this season-the most since 1951 when it scored 50 in 10 games. ASU has scored at least 30 points in 17 of its last 22 regular-season games.
Still Needs Work: ASU still needs to improve in all phases of special teams but it did a get a boost on Saturday night when true freshman Rocky Hayes recorded a career-high 72 kickoff return yards, including a career-best 36 yard return, something the Red Wolves have been missing all season.
Quote To Note: "It was a big win, a hard fought win. We knew we were going to get Troy's best and sure enough we did. The guys found a way to win on the road and it feels great right now."-ASU head coach Gus Malzahn.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Freshman WR J.D. McKissic finished the game with a career-tying 12 receptions and has now recorded at least four receptions in every game this season. McKissic recorded his fourth TD reception this season. McKissic went over 100 yards receiving for the third time this season, tying the fifth most times in school history for a single season. He caught at least 10 passes for the third consecutive games and now has 34 over that span.
Senior QB Ryan Aplin threw a career-high four touchdown passes, giving him 20 this season and 63 for his career. His 20 TD passes are the second most in school history for a single season, while his four today tie the second most in school history for a single game and the most by a Sun Belt player this year. He has now posted at least one TD pass in 35 his last 39 games, including the last six in a row. He has now thrown at least two TD passes in six games this season, including the last three in a row. Aplin became the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to record over 10,000 passing yards and broke the league record for career passing yards. He finished the game with 369, giving him 10,307 for his career to move past FAU's Rusty Smith (10,112 yards from 2005-09) for the record. Aplin recorded a season-high 85 rushing yards and finished with over 300 yards total offense for the 18th time of his career, including the last three in a row.
Junior RB David Oku recorded his first career TD reception at ASU on a 43-yard reception, also the longest of his career. Oku recorded two rushing TD's giving him 14 this season, and he has now posted at least one rushing score in six consecutive games. Oku had a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter that was the longest of his career.
Senior defensive back Don Jones was ejected in the first half of Saturdays win for an unsportsmanlike call.
Try RedWolfReport.com ABSOLUTELY FREE for 60 days! CLICK HERE to sign up today!
Keep checking back with RedWolfReport.com all of your Red Wolf athletic and recruiting news!