MOBILE, Ala. (KTHV) -- Arkansas State defeats Kent State Sunday night in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
After a disappointing appearance in last year's GoDaddy.com Bowl, ASU had much better luck this time around. A solid defense helped lead the Red Wolves to a 17-13 victory over the 25th-ranked Golden Flashes.
"Our defense played well for us, and that gave us the motivation to go out and perform," said Aplin of ASU's defensive effort. "I think it's probably the least amount of points we've put up all year, but guys were making plays in space, and the o-line was opening up holes. But the defense saves us tonight. They came out and played tremendous and got us the win."
Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin finished the game with 213 passing yards on 21 out of 30 completions. He also passed for one touchdown and no interceptions.
Kent State quarterback, Spencer Keith, had 157 passing yards on 17 out of 33 pass attempts. He threw one interception and no touchdowns.
Rocky Hayes led the Red Wolves with 57 yards rushing on eight carries. David Oku was a big playmaker, though, scoring the Red Wolves' first touchdown of the game on a 10 yard run. Oku finished with 37 yards on 18 carries.
J.D. McKissic also scored a touchdown for ASU on a 31 yard pass from Aplin. McKissic finished with 113 yards on 11 receptions. Darion Griswold had the second most receiving yards for the Red Wolves with 54 yards and three catches.
Brian Davis tacked on ASU's final points of the night with a 25 yard field goal halfway through the third quarter. That put the Red Wolves up 17-10.\
Kent State scored a field goal of their own with 1:44 left in the third quarter making the score 17-13. A tight defense from both teams led to a scoreless fourth quarter and the final score of 17-13, Arkansas State.
In the process, the Red Wolves also claimed their first win over a ranked opponent since joining the FBS in 1992. A-State finishes the season with a 10-3 record and their second consecutive 10-win season.
"What a group of guys. I'm so blessed to be here and to have people around me like these coaches and players," said ASU interim head coach John Thompson.
"I'm so grateful to our staff. We have great people, and the whole country got to see that tonight. I'm so blessed to be a part of it. They're really good football players, but they've got a ton of heart. That game was a good one. Our guys stepped up when they had to and made plays."
ASU senior quarterback Ryan Aplin took home the GoDaddy.com Bowl Player of the Game Award. Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee won the game's Defensive MVP award.
"I was really fired up," said Lee. I kept saying that this was the last game and last chance for the seniors, so we tried to go out with a bang."
The Red Wolves end the year on an eight-game winning streak, their second longest since 1986. A-State's 10 wins tie the fourth most in school history, matching its total in 1951 and 2011. ASU posted double-figure wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.
"Our guys have tremendous belief, and we've got a new coach, Bryan Harsin, coming in starting tomorrow," Thompson added. "It will help us in every regard in terms of recruiting and national exposure. Everybody, including the administration, is a part of this thing. We've got a lot of momentum, and I'm thankful."