Humes, Hansen lead Arkansas State past No. 25 Troy, 35-3
Arkansas State's Austin Moreton (76) and Chris Murray (14) celebrate with wide receiver Kendall Sanders (4) after Sanders' touchdown catch during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Troy in Troy, Ala., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (Thomas Graning/Troy Messenger via AP)
TROY, Ala. (AP) The Arkansas State Red Wolves used big plays, smothering defense and a well-executed gamble to prove they are still the team to beat in the Sun Belt Conference.
Chris Humes caught a 31-yard pass on a fake punt and recovered a fumble in the end zone to help Arkansas State upset No. 25 Troy 35-3 on Thursday night.
The Red Wolves (6-4, 6-0) gained the inside track for a fifth league title in six years after starting the season 0-4.
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Four days earlier, Troy (8-2, 5-1) had become the first ranked Sun Belt team after winning seven straight games. But the league's top scoring offense committed five turnovers and couldn't reach the end zone.
''We took it very, very personally,'' said Arkansas State defensive end Chris Odom, who forced the fumble that led to Humes' touchdown. ''Top 25, they thought they were already No. 1 in the conference. They felt like they had already won the Sun Belt title.
''Well, they had to go through us tonight and we showed them how we play.''
Arkansas State has won 15 straight conference games. The first Sun Belt team to start 8-1, Troy scored first but wound up losing to the Red Wolves for the fourth straight year.
''They came in here as champions and they're leaving as champions,'' Trojans coach Neal Brown said. ''We haven't earned that yet.''
Humes had a big role in two straight touchdowns. Arkansas State turned a fake punt into a 7-3 halftime lead. Cam Echols-Luper took the punt snap and hit a wide open Humes, who raced down the left sideline to inside Troy's 10.
Three plays later, Justice Hansen hit a leaping Kendall Sanders in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. The Red Wolves at one point had more punts (7) than completions (6).
Humes recovered a fumble in the end zone on the first play of the second half after Odom knocked the ball loose from quarterback Brandon Silvers. It was one of many plays by the defense that Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said ''came up as big as you possibly can.''
''That was about as complete a game defensively as you can play from beginning to end,'' Anderson said. ''They came up aces. We all knew they were capable of it.''
Hansen started slow but completed a few balls downfield in the second half. He finished 13 of 24 for 149 yards
Silvers was 20 of 39 for 207 yards with two interceptions. The Sun Belt's leading rusher, Jordan Chunn, was limited to 51 yards on 16 carries.
Arkansas State: Has won 18 of its last 21 Sun Belt road games. Gained 126 yards in the first half and 262 in the second. Ja'Von Rolland-Jones tied the Sun Belt career record with his 26th sack.
Troy: The Trojans had only lost four fumbles all season, but twice coughed up the ball in Arkansas State territory before halftime and fared worse the third time. An offense that came in averaging 474 yards and 38.1 points was held to 262 yards.
QB PRESSURE: Troy allowed two sacks after coming in having given up a nation's best three in nine games.
The Trojans had only a few days to celebrate being in the Top 25 , but are still having their best season in years.
Arkansas State faces Louisiana-Lafayette in the second of three straight Sun Belt road games.
Troy visits Sun Belt opponent Texas State trying to regroup.
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