JONESBORO, Ark. – Ryan Aplin threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Stockemer to break a tie early in the third quarter, David Oku ran for 131 yards and three scores, and Arkansas State held off Louisiana-Monroe 45-23 on Thursday night to take the Sun Belt Conference lead.
Aplin was 26 of 34 for 334 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 44 yards and a touchdown to help Arkansas State (7-3, 5-1) run its winning streak to five games. The Red Wolves began the night tied for the conference lead with ULM (6-4, 4-2) and Middle Tennessee, which is idle this week.
"I'm very proud of our team," Arlansas State coach Gus Malzhan said. "We beat a good football team at home. We've played well on the road the last few weeks and we really haven't put together a real good performance at home, so it feels real good to have that and get our seventh victory."
Oku added 1- and 6-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter and a 4-yarder in the fourth. He finished with 22 carries, and J.D. McKissic led the Red Wolves in receiving with 12 catches for 102 yards.
ULM's Cody Wells was 37 of 53 for 357 yards and two TDs, Bryant Leonard had 14 catches for 134 yards, and Je'Ron Hamm added nine receptions for 102 yards. The Warhawks have lost two straight after winning five in a row.
After ULM opened the scoring on Wells' 27-yard pass to Monterrell Washington, Arkansas State took a 14-7 lead on Aplin's 35-yard TD pass to Julian Jones, and Aplin's 38-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
The teams traded 37-yard field goals in the second quarter, with Justin Manton connecting for ULM and Brain Davis countering for Arkansas State, and the Warhawks tied it early in the third quarter on Wells' 37-yard touchdown pass to Rashon Ceasar.
The Red Wolves improved to 11-1 in their last 12 home games, winning in front of 30,243 fans — the second-largest crowd at Liberty Bank Stadium.