One step closer to conference championship

One step closer to conference championship

Arkansas State Football team has one goal this season, that's to repeat as Sun Belt Conference Champions for the second consecutive season. AStateNation.com made the trip to Troy to bring our members the very best coverage possible. Go "Inside" to find out how the ASU players felt after the big win. What are the chances Don Jones plays against Middle Tennssee. Those answers and more.

Troy, Alabama

One step closer.

Arkansas State Football team has one goal this season, that's to repeat as Sun Belt Conference Champions for the second consecutive season.

The Red Wolves got one step closer to that goal here Saturday night, fending off an offensive Troy team 41-34 in what ended up being an offensive shootout.

There is no doubt that this battle was physical and some might call it a tad dirty, with multiple dead ball penalties being called in the game.

The Arkansas State defense played without one of its better defensive players when senior Don Jones was ejected in the game for a dead ball foul. AStateNation.com received a clarification from the Sun Belt office late Saturday evening, stating that the rule states that if a person is ejected on matter in what quarter or half, that player would be suspended for the team's next ballgame. They also clarified that a bye week doesn't count, meaning it's most likely that Jones will miss the Red Wolves season finale against Middle Tennessee, in a game that will most likely be for the Sun Belt Championship. The Sun Belt also stated that all suspensions can be appealed and that the suspension could be lessen or waived based on the decision of the Sun Belt Commissioner and officials.

Red shirt freshman Kyle Coleman replaced Jones and according to fellow defender senior linebacker Nathan Herrold played a good game.

"I'm very proud of how Kyle played tonight," Herrold said after the game. "He came in when we needed him and played great. He did a good job tonight, he stepped up when we needed him."

Now Arkansas State, 8-3 for the year and 6-1 in Sun Belt play, will take a week off for the Thanksgiving Holidays before returning to action December 1 when the Red Wolves play host to Middle Tennessee.

ASU currently is a half of game a head of Middle Tennessee in the league standings, both teams have one loss in the conference. If the Blue Raiders can get by Troy next week, then the December 1st match-up will be for the conference championship.

"It's great to get the win," Head Coach Gus Malzahn said after the big win. "This was a very tough game, we just beat a very good Troy team. I'm very proud of our guys, they never quit."

Arkansas State jumped out to a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, and held a 20-17 lead at the half.

Troy tied the game at 20 with 9:39 left to play in the third quarter.

From that point the Red Wolves took control of the game building a 34-23 lead over the home standing Trojans.

From a statistical standpoint, ASU controlled the ball in a lot of ways, including having the advantage in first downs 33-23.

Arkansas State out rushed Troy 226 yards to 71, and held the advantage of total offense 595 to 518.

David Oku finished the night with 93 yards on 20 carries and senior quarterback Ryan Aplin had 87 yards on 12 totes.

"It's great to get the win," Aplin said after the game. "It gets one step closer to our goal, we want to win another conference championship outright. We don't want to share it, now we have the opportunity to continue towards our goal."

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