The Red Wolves (2-2) did about whatever they wanted in building a 42-0 halftime lead over the Braves (1-3) before a crowd of 21,559 at Liberty Bank Stadium Saturday night. It was the team's eighth straight victory on the home turf, where they will play Western Kentucky next Saturday in the Sun Belt opener.
ASU finished with 634 yards offense, 396 yard rushing. There was 238 yards passing on a team effort on 14 of 15 passing.
"Offensively we were able to run the ball, especially in the second half,'' said coach Gus Malzahn. "We were able to get a bunch of guys in and they played well. We are pretty good depth-wise at running back.''
Those who left at halftime, and there were a lot, missed a main audition of a lot of Red Wolves newcomers who are in reserve roles this season. Rod Smith finished with 104 yards on 13 carries, Sirgregory Thornton had 59 yards on six carries and both scored touchdowns. Fredi Knighthen had 3 carries for 37 yards and was 2 of 2 passing for 40 yards. Derek Keaton caught one pass for 33 yards.
In that first half they saw Ryan Aplin set two school records -- most career TD passes and for single game passing percentage. Aplin completed 12 of 13 passes to clip Tom Sears mark of 11 for 12 set in 1992 against Southern Illinois. Aplin, who had a 19 of 21 game in the victory over Memphis last year, finished with 198 yards and three touchdowns. He also added one carry for 24 yards.
Aplin hit J.D. McKissic for a 33-yard scoring pass, an 11-yarder to Julian Jones and a 7-yarder for Kedric Murry. He had a 55-yard play to Josh Jarboe and 54 yards to Carlos McCants. Like a lot of the fans, Aplin's night was over at the half.
David Oku, who saw some action as wildcat formation quarterback, also had a short night. He rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries. He scored on runs of 12 and 1 yard.
"For us to be effective we have got to be able to run the ball,'' Malzahn said. "We are a downhill running football team. We had 376 yards rushing, they did a solid job.
"From the sideline we made a few mistakes, but we protected the ball well.''
The defense, which had the only touchdown in last week's loss at Nebraska, started the scoring on this night. Ronnell Wright picked up a fumble and ran in from the 7 with 9:02 left in the first quarter. "
The defense set the tone,'' said Malzahn. "I thought they did a good job. It is not easy to get a shutout in college football today. They held them to 130 yards and I am excited about how they played.
"We are having a lot of guys settle into their roles. We have seen what they can do and we are playing to their strengths. we need to keep improving each week.''
The Red Wolves led 14-0 after one quarter. It was 42-0 at halftime.
Thornton scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter. Smith scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter.. Brian Davis was perfect on all eight extra point kicks.