Sun Belt Champion Red Wolves Expect Bowl Announcement Sunday at 7 p.m.
JONESBORO – The Arkansas State football team defeated Middle Tennessee 45-0 Saturday night at Liberty Bank Stadium to claim its second consecutive Sun Belt Conference championship, and now the Red Wolves will await an official invitation to a 2012 bowl game that university and athletics department officials expect to be announced tomorrow at approximately 7 p.m.
Fans can follow AStateRedWolves.com for A-State’s official 2012 bowl announcement. Almost immediately following Arkansas State’s official bowl announcement, tickets will be available online through ASU’s ticket office at tickets.astate.edu. Fans are encouraged to order tickets through the ASU Box Office to help ensure they receive priority seating.
The Red Wolves made a loud statement in their final regular-season game, shutting out a Blue Raiders team that entered the game with an 8-3 overall record, a 6-1 conference mark and receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll. A-State won its seventh consecutive game and improved to 9-3 overall and 7-1 in league play.
ASU, which claimed back-to-back conference titles for the first time since 1985-86, is currently receiving votes in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls and is No. 33 in the CBSSports.com 124 and No. 40 in the BCS rankings.
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ASU Claims Sun Belt Title With 45-0 Win over Middle Tennessee
JONESBORO, Ark. — The Arkansas State football team claimed its second straight Sun Belt Conference championship with a 45-0 victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday in front of a Liberty Bank Stadium record crowd of 31,243.
ASU (9-3, 8-1 Sun Belt Conference) scored 35 points and racked up 332 of its 512 yards of total offense in the first half on its way to its second shutout of the season. Junior tailback David Oku finished with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries. He also surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season to become ASU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Arnold in 2008.
“Our team played its best game in the biggest moment,” ASU head coach Gus Malzahn said. “I’m so proud of our players and coaches. The defense just did an unbelievable job. We are playing our best football right now, and that’s what we need.”
A-State led by five touchdowns at halftime after a strong effort on both sides of the ball.
Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded his third interception of the season in the first quarter, and the Red Wolves’ offense to
ok advantage of the opportunity with a nine-play, 40-yard drive that was capped off by a nine-yard run from Oku to put them up 14-0 with 7:05 left in the first quarter.
A-State pushed the lead to 21-0 on its next drive when senior quarterback Ryan Aplin connected with wideout Josh Jarboe for a 6-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first quarter.
The lead swelled to 28-0 after the Red Wolves defense stopped the Blue Raiders on a fourth-and-1 at the ASU 41-yard line and then scored on the next play – a 59-yard pitch and catch from Aplin to Julian Jones.
The Red Wolves scored their final touchdown of the first half on a 12-yard rush from freshman Rocky Hayes that capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with 23 seconds left in the half.
Aplin finished the game 19-of-21 for 238 yards and three touchdowns, bringing his total to 23 passing touchdowns for the year. His 23 passing scores are the most in ASU history for a single season, topping his own record of 21 set in 2010. He also added 64 rushing yards and one touchdown on six carries.
“He is a running threat and a tough guy,” Malzahn said. “He hurt them on the zone reads early and anytime a quarterback can be a running threat it puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”
The Red Wolves scored on their first drive of the second half on a six-yard pass from Aplin Kedric Murry, pushing the lead to 42-0. Brian Davis scored the game’s final points on a 21-yard field goal with 14:48 left in the game.
A-State’s defense held Middle Tennessee to just 203 yards of total offense and forced the Blue Raiders into two turnovers. Herrold led the defense with 10 tackles and one interception, while Sterling Young and Qushaun Lee had eight tackles each.
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