Warhawks drop Sun Belt game to Red Wolves

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Arkansas State used a prolific, quick-strike offense to send ULM (6-4, 4-2) to its second straight loss, 45-23, in front of 30,243 at the Liberty Bank Stadium -- the second largest attendance in the stadium's history. The score was tied early in the third quarter at 17, but the Red Wolves rattled off 21 unanswered points to run away from the Warhawks.
Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin and running back David Oku led the way for the Red Wolves, who improved to 7-3 overall, 5-1 in the Sun Belt. Aplin rang up 357 yards through the air with two touchdowns and an interception to go along with a touchdown on the ground. Oku carried 22 times for 131 yards and three second-half scores.
ULM senior wide receiver Brent Leonard finished with another big game, as he grabbed 14 catches for 134 yards. Senior quarterback Cody Wells also posted big stats in a losing effort, throwing the ball 53 times for 357 yards and two touchdowns in just his second career start. Junior running back Monterrell Washington led the way for ULM on the ground, carrying the ball 12 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. Washington also had four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
The visitors jumped out to an early lead after an ASU punt following a three-and-out on their first possession. Wells marched the Warhawks down the field, completing passes to four different receivers before finding Washington on an out route which the junior took 27 yards into the end zone. Wells was a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive, throwing for 69 yards.
ASU responded quickly, scoring on the ensuing drive when Aplin hit Julian Jones in stride for a 35-yard strike to cap off a seven play, 75-yard drive to even the score at 7-all.
ULM was whistled for an offside penalty during an ASU punt attempt on the Red Wolves' next possession, allowing Aplin to score on a 38-yard scramble to put ASU up 14-7.
The teams traded field goals to start the second quarter, with ULM's Justin Manton and ASU's Brian Davis both converting 37-yard attempts. The field goal was the longest of Manton's season, and the second longest of his career. The 17-10 scored was preserved through halftime, as ULM senior safety Henry Mitchell intercepted Aplin in the ULM end zone to end the half.
After the ASU second-half opening kickoff went out of bounds, ULM's offense moved down the field quickly. After connecting with Leonard for a 17-yard third-down conversion, Wells then found freshman Rashon Ceaser open down the seam for a 37-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17 apiece.
The tie didn't last long, as Aplin hit a wide-open Taylor Stockemer for a 70-yard completion on the first play of the subsequent drive. Aplin ran towards the line and flipped a jump-pass to Stockemer, who raced open down the field for the score to give the Red Wolves a 24-17 advantage.
ULM turned the ball over on downs at the ASU 37-yard line on the following possession, and ASU's offense continued to roll. A play action bomb to Jones netted 46 yards to move the ball into the red zone, and the Red Wolves scored again when Oku plowed into the end zone on a fourth down and one. After a ULM punt, ASU marched back down the field and Oku found the end zone again on a six-yard carry to extend the lead to 38-17.
Both teams tacked on late touchdowns to reach the final score of 45-23. Washington powered in for a score from the one-yard line for Warhawks, and Oku added his third touchdown of the night several minutes later when he hit pay dirt from the ULM 4-yard line.
The Warhawks return home next Saturday (Nov. 17) to face North Texas at Malone Stadium, with kickoff set for 3 p.m.