Week 6 Sun Belt Recap

Arkansas State 43, Georgia Southern 25

Since I am not a masochist, I will just revert you to what I wrote earlier in the week here. Justice Hansen and the Red Wolves kicked off #FunBelt Wednesdays with an interesting, yet comfortable 43-25 victory over the Eagles.


ULM 45, Texas St 27

Matt Viator’s Warhawks continue to emerge as the story of the year in the Sun Belt. They are now 3-0 in conference and 1st place as of today, after beating the Texas State Bobcats 45-27 Saturday.

Both teams had exciting uniform choices. I give ULM a solid A, I like the white with burgundy, and their helmets popped. I wasn’t a fan of Texas State’s yellow gold uniforms, however, C-.

ULM QB Caleb Evans threw for a career-high 433 yards and 3 TDs as the Warhawks overpowered the Bobcats after the 1st quarter. Evans threw a 34-yard TD pass to RJ Turner to take a 26-20 lead midway through the 2nd quarter. He followed that up with a 10-yard run of his own in the 3rd, and a 67-yard bomb to Marcus Green early in the 4th.

Texas State won the 1st quarter 20-19 and proceeded to lose the next three quarters, 26-7. Marcus Green finished with four catches for 100 yards, RJ Turner had 5 for 99. ULM’s RB Ben Luckett had 17 carries and 62 yards and a TD.

This game was a compelling matchup between two 2nd year SBC head coaches. Viator has ULM well on their way back to the form they exhibited during the Kolton Browning era. A tough out, no matter who they play.

Meanwhile, Everett Withers at Texas State is floundering in year two in San Marcos. It was not an easy rebuild to start with so he is not quite in the Tyson Summers zone yet, but as of today, his team is 1-5 and 0-2 in the conference.


App St 45, NMSU 31

What a strange game. The New Mexico State Aggies – and especially Tyler Rogers – proved just how good this team could be, as they turned the ball over six times, got zero points off the one turnover they forced, and still lost by only two scores.

The frustrating part for Aggie fans is that five of those six interceptions occurred on essentially the exact same throw, but Coach Martin kept calling it and Rogers kept throwing it anyway. The sixth and final interception finally came on a different route, but it also came one play after an interception that was called back.

After opening the game by going 7-for-10 for 59 yards and a touchdown, Rogers put togethera stretch where he went 3-for-9 for 15 yards and three interceptions. You read that right, three interceptions in nine attempts. The Aggies stuck with it though, and a touchdown run by Rogers cut the score to 17-14 App State at the half.

The second half was an even back and forth, but the Aggies kept building momentum and a Larry Rose rushing touchdown gave the Aggies a 24-17 lead with 13:44 left in the game. Rogers then proceeded to throw three more interceptions en route to the Aggies getting outscored 28-7 in 13 minutes of football.

Good things happened still, as Larry Rose had another 80 yards rushing while Jason Huntley blazed his way to 96 rushing yards and 111 receiving yards plus a touchdown. Tyler Rogers threw for 356 yards on the day despite being without Jaleel Scott for most of it. But you cannot throw the exact same interception on the exact same route multiple times in a game and live to tell about it as a winner.

The Aggies will now head to Statesboro to try and right the ship against a much less adept defense (and offense) and can thank their lucky stars they’ve played the hard half of their schedule, but a healthy Jaleel Scott and some smarter playcalling will go a long way. App State should be grateful for a game where their starting QB was 10-for-21 for 48 yards and 2 INTs and they still got the win, and they’ll need to fix these errors eventually, but I doubt they’ll have much trouble next week against Idaho


ULL 21, Idaho 16

The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns snapped a three-game losing streak with a 21-16 win in Moscow vs. Idaho. It was a defensive game. Neither team ended up with over 300 total yards. Andre Nunez connected with Ja’Marcus Bradley for a 45-yard TD in the 3rd. The Cajuns successfully fended off the Vandals down the stretch to secure the victory.

Nunez started the 2nd half with a five play, 75-yard drive to make the game 21-10. Nunez went 18-24 with 213 yards 1 TD, 1 INT. Bradley had five catches for 93 yards, and Rykeem Malone added five catches himself for 80 yards. Trey Ragas added 17 carries for 78 yards and a TD on the ground.

Idaho jumped out to an early in the 1st, when DL DJ Henderson channeled William “The Refrigerator” Perry and punched in a 1-yard TD. He added five tackles and 1.5 sacks on defense, a genuinely heroic performance in the loss.

The Vandals DL dominated the Louisiana OL like they did the borders of the Roman Empire circa 400 AD. This is your place for Roman Empire related analogies; you’re welcome. Idaho had seven sacks on the day, Leonard Hazelwood had 3.5 sacks by himself.

Matt Linehan threw for 149 on 13 for 28; his 91.1 QBR rating is proof that statistics’ methodology might be broken. RB Isaiah Saunders had 81 total yards, Aaron Duckworth added 62 on 14 carries.

Both Louisiana and Idaho move to 2-3 overall, 1-1 in the conference.


Georgia State 27, Coastal 21

Georgia State continues to show improvement under first-year coach Shawn Elliott. They picked up a road conference win over Coastal Carolina Saturday 27-21. Conner Manning threw for 273 yards and a TD.

GSU RB Glenn Smith opened the scoring account early taking the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. He added 74 yards on 23 carries. He had 205 all-purpose yards on the day.

Penny Hart, probably the best WR in the conference, caught a 7-yard pass from Conner Manning to make it 14-0 with 3:25 in the 1st. He had 132 yards receiving on eight catches. TE Ari Werts had four catches for 92 yards.

Omar Black and Malcolm Williams had 5 catches a piece for the Chants. Osharmar Abercrombie added 42 yards on nine carries to lead CCU in rushing.

Georgia State improved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the conference. Next week’s road trip to Monroe to face SBC leaders ULM will be a decent measuring stick for the Panthers. If they can win in NW Louisiana next week, they have a home stretch at Turner Petit Field on the other side with momentum. This Georgia State program, with a wind at its sails, could be a force, soon.

Coastal Carolina is now 1-4 overall and 0-2 in conference in their first year in FBS under Jamey Chadwell.


2017 Sun Belt Conference Standings




Louisiana Monroe 3-0 3-2
Appalachian State 2-0 3-2
Arkansas State 2-0 3-2
Troy 1-0 4-1
Georgia State 1-0 2-2
Idaho 1-1 2-3
Louisiana 1-1 2-3
South Alabama 0-1 1-4
Georgia Southern 0-1 0-4
New Mexico State 0-2 2-4
Coastal Carolina 0-2 1-4
Texas State 0-2 1-5

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