JONESBORO Ryan Aplin passed for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Arkansas State beat ULM 45-23 at Liberty Bank Stadium on Thursday to take sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference with two games to play.
The Red Wolves (7-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) won their fifth consecutive game and ensured the Warhawks wouldn't go undefeated this year in the Natural State. ULM beat Arkansas 34-31 exactly two months earlier in overtime at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
The Warhawks (6-4, 4-2) were without star quarterback Kolton Browning this time around, though, after he broke his leg in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday. Without him, ULM still moved the ball well with back-up Cody Wells passing for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns.
ULM took a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard pass from Wells to Monterrel Washington early in the first quarter, but ASU responded with a 35-yard pass from Aplin to Julian Jones less than four minutes later and never trailed again.
Aplin scored on a 38-yard touchdown run later in the quarter and Brian Davis connected on a 37-yard field goal to give the Red Wolves a 17-10 halftime lead.
Wells' second touchdown pass tied the game early in the third quarter. ASU scored 21 straight points to put the game out reach and take a 38-17 lead entering the final period, though, after Aplin's 70-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Stockemer gave the Red Wolves the lead for good and David Oku ran for a pair of short touchdowns.
Oku finished the game with 131 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
Arkansas State broke out of a three-way tie with ULM and Middle Tennessee atop the Sun Belt standings with the win, taking a half-game lead over the Blue Raiders entering the weekend. The Red Wolves will play at Troy next Saturday before closing the season Dec. 1 with a home game against Middle Tennessee.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more