Photo courtesy of Troy Athletics
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ARKANSAS STATE: Arkansas State (4-4, 2-1 Sun Belt) enjoyed some extra time off this weekend after winning back-to-back conference games to begin the month of October. It will try to make it three in a row for the first time this season on Tuesday night when it plays at Louisiana.
FIU: The Panthers held a 37-21 lead midway through the third quarter at Troy, but they surrendered the final 17 points, including the game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left to lose to the Torjans in a 38-37 final. For the second straight game, Jake Medlock threw for more than 300 yards, completing 18-of-29 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw his first interception of the season, ending his school-record streak of 203 straight attempts without a pick. Willis Wright caught a career-high six balls for 129 yards and touchdown, while Wayne Times (four receptions, 28 yards) and Glenn Coleman (three receptions, 73 yards) were also on the receiving end of scoring strikes from Medlock. Kedrick Rhodes led the team with 83 yards rushing and Darian Mallary (41 yards) scored his ninth touchdown of the year. After narrowly missing out on its first conference win of the year, FIU (1-7, 0-4 Sun Belt) will try again this Saturday when it hosts Western Kentucky.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: Up by 14 points late, the Owls appeared to be in great shape to pick up a win against South Alabama over the weekend, but the defense did not hold up its end of the bargain in giving up two touchdowns in the final six minutes of regulation which ultimately led to a 37-34 loss in double- overtime. The defeat spoiled a great day for the FAU (1-6, 0-4 Sun Belt) offense, which piled up 461 yards and had several players tally career days. Graham Wilbert completed 27-of-41 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first Owls' quarterback since Rusty Smith in 2009 to pass for 300 yards in a game. William Dukes also accomplished a rare feat by amassing 119 receiving yards, the first 100-yard receiver for FAU in more than two years. Jonathan Wallace also got into the act as well with a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown. The heartbreaker gave FAU its sixth consecutive loss, and it will try to stop the bleeding this Saturday in a home date versus Troy.
LOUISIANA: The Ragin' Cajuns held a 20-6 lead early in the third quarter, but coughed it up to North Texas en route to a 30-23 road loss for its first conference defeat of the season. Terrance Broadway completed 26-of-41 passes for 265 yards, which included a 10-yard touchdown pass to Harry Peoples which put Louisiana (4-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) up by 14 in the second half. Broadway also led the team in rushing with 84 yards, 75 of which came on a second-quarter touchdown run, but the rest of the team combined for just 22 rushing yards. Coming into the contest, the Cajuns defense ranked 19th nationally in allowing 107.2 rushing yards per game, but the Mean Green torched them for 242 yards on 52 carries. For the second straight week, Louisiana will play on Tuesday night when it entertains the Red Wolves of Arkansas State.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE: The Blue Raiders fought hard in the first half against nationally-ranked Mississippi State over the weekend, trailing just 10-3 at halftime. Unfortunately, they surrendered 35 unanswered points in the second half to fall to the Bulldogs, 45-3. Logan Kilgore was far from impressive, completing 16-of-25 passes for 159 yards and an interception, but the performance was good enough to move into seventh place on the program's career passing yards list with 4,234 yards. In its first game without star running back Benny Cunningham (knee), Middle Tennessee (4-3) received solid production out of the backfield from Jordan Parker (13 carries, 66 yards) and Reggie Whatley (six carries, 48 yards). Anthony Amos (six receptions, 93 yards) continued his solid play as he now has three straight games with at least 90 receiving yards, and five total for the season. The Blue Raiders return to Sun Belt action this Saturday as they play host to the North Texas Mean Green.
NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green managed to overcome a 14-point, second-half deficit against Louisiana last Tuesday night to win at home, 30-23. With the game tied at 23-23 with less than two minutes to play in regulation, Derek Thompson connected on a screen pass to Antoinne Jimmerson, who then took it 78 yards for the game-winning touchdown. It was one of two scoring passes for Thompson on the night, as he finished 17-of-28 for 282 yards with no interceptions. Jimmerson caught another touchdown pass in the third quarter (28 yards) and added 35 rushing yards to his stat line. Of the Mean Green's 524 yards of total offense, 242 came via the running game against a Louisiana defense that came into the clash ranked 19th in the nation in allowing just 107.2 yards per game on the ground. Brandin Byrd led the way with 88 rushing yards. North Texas (3-4, 2-1 Sun Belt) is in the midst of an 11-day break as it will return to action at Middle Tennessee this coming Saturday.
SOUTH ALABAMA: The Jaguars appeared to be well on their way to another loss when they were down by 14 points in the fourth quarter, but they sparked an improbable comeback to defeat Florida Atlantic in double-overtime on Saturday, 37-34. It was USA's first conference win as a member of the Sun Belt. Ross Metheny connected with Gabe Loper on a 16-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left in regulation to force the extra sessions, and after the team's exchanged field goals in the first OT, Michael Chapuseaux nailed a 35-yard field goal for the win. Metheny's day wasn't pretty (13-of-27, 179 yards), but he came up with his lone touchdown pass when his team needed it the most. The rushing attack averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, but South Alabama (2-5, 1-2 Sun Belt) never abandoned it and gained 180 yards on the ground as a result. Demetre Baker led the team with 73 yards and he scored a pair of touchdowns. Loper finished with four catches for 91 yards in just his second game at receiver. USA has a tough task ahead as it will play at first-place ULM this Saturday.
TROY: Although they found themselves trailing by 16 points in the second half, the Trojans climbed all the way back to defeat FIU, 38-37, on a game-winning 42-yard field goal from Will Scott with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the largest second-half comeback by the team since coming back from 17 down against UCF in 1995. Starting in place of the injured Corey Robinson, Deon Anthony shined. Not only did he connect on 29-of-41 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns, but he also ran for 115 yards and a pair of scores. It was the most rushing yards by a Troy quarterback since Bob Godsey ran for 122 against Tennessee-Martin back in 1997. Eric Thomas (six receptions, 60 yards) caught two of Anthony's touchdown passes, and Shawn Southward piled up 90 combined yards (51 rushing, 40 receiving). Troy (4-3, 3-2 Sun Belt) will try to keep the momentum going this week when it travels to Boca Raton to play Florida Atlantic.
ULM: A matchup between the Sun Belt's top two teams turned out even better than advertised, with the Warhawks finding themselves on the winning side of a 43-42 overtime thriller against Western Kentucky. With less than a minute to play in regulation, Kolton Browning connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rashon Ceasar to send the game into overtime. After the Hilltoppers scored a touchdown on their first possession in the extra frame, ULM retaliated with a three-yard scoring plunge from Browning followed by a game-winning two-point conversion. As he has been all season, Browning was sensational both passing (308 yards, four TDs) and rushing (69 yards, two TDs), although WKU held him to his worst game efficiency-wise this season (22-of-41, two INTs). Je'Ron Hamm led the team with 78 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Colby Harper (62 yards), Cortney Davis (30 yards) and Ceasar (36 yards) also caught touchdown passes. Other than Browning, the Warhawks had no success running, attempting only five rushes between two running backs for a scant eight yards. ULM (5-2, 3-0 Sun Belt) will try to keep the good times going this week as it entertains conference newcomer South Alabama.
WESTERN KENTUCKY: The Hilltoppers held a 28-7 lead in the first half of their recent showdown with ULM, but thanks to some late-game heroics by the Warhawks, they lost the overtime thriller, 43-42. WKU held a touchdown lead in the game's final minute but allowed ULM to tie the game and force overtime. Kawaun Jakes scored on the first possession of OT on a nine-yard run, but the Warhawks answered with a touchdown run of their own and went for a do-or-die two-point conversion to win the game and succeeded, snapping the Hilltoppers' four-game winning streak in the process. Jakes was on-point for most of the contest, completing 25-of-32 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns, although he also threw an interception and was sacked five times. Antonio Andrews (21 carries, 104 yards, TD) continues to show why he is perhaps the best running back in the conference with his fifth straight 100-yard game. Willie McNeal (seven catches, 120 yards, TD) and Jack Doyle (six catches, 82 yards, two TDs) shined as Jakes' top targets in the receiving game. WKU (5-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) will try to get back on track on the road this Saturday at FIU.