Tale of two halves

Arkansas State hasn't lost a conference game since 2010, that is until Saturday night in the Red Wolves 2012 conference home opener against Western Kentucky. Go "Inside" as AStateNation Publisher recaps Saturday night's game Arkansas State vs Western Kentucky.

Arkansas State hasn't lost a conference game since 2010, that is until Saturday night in the Red Wolves 2012 conference home opener against Western Kentucky.

This is by far one of the strangest series that many ASU fans can ever remember.

The last three games of the series prior until Saturday night had all been decided by four points or less and the home team had loss all three games.

Almost the same scenario that occurred here, the home team fell to the visitor again, and again it was a second half come back that saw the home team fall to the wayside.

This time the Hilltoppers, who trailed 13-0 at the intermission, made some great halftime adjustments to command the second half of play.

Saturday's game was definitely a tale of two halves.

Arkansas State totally dominated the first half of play, producing 16 first downs compared to just five for Western Kentucky.

ASU also almost doubled the Hilltoppers in total offense in the first thirty minutes of the game, gaining 212 yards to just 114 for Western Kentucky.

In the second half it was all WKU.

After Arkansas State came out of intermission with a 13 point lead, it was a bad punt that ended up shifting the momentum towards the Hilltoppers.

How close things are sometimes from being a difference maker in a tightly contested game such as this one.

ASU had gotten the ball back after holding WKU three and out, the Red Wolves had the ball and was moving it successfully, picking up one first down before having a third and two, this is where things began to shift.

Aplin, who was sacked for a total of four times for a loss of 32 yards was thrown for a 8 yard loss forcing fourth and 10.

Sixth year senior punter Neely Sullivent who had a good night prior to this upcoming kick, shanked the football off the side of his foot for just a 14 yard punt, giving WKU the need shift in momentum they had been looking for.

Western Kentucky started out at their own 48 yards and 52 yards later the Hilltoppers closed their 13 point deficit to just 6 points.

Arkansas State only had the ball on two plays before Aplin's pass was intercepted by Xavius Boyd, giving WKU the ball on ASU's 37 yard line.

Two plays later Western Kentucky took the lead for the first time in the contest and never look back enroute to its 26-13 win over the home ASU team.

Arkansas State had did a good job in the first half limiting WKU's starting quarterback Kawuan Jakes to just 18 yards passing on seven attempts and three completions.

Jakes had given the Red Wolves a hard time in last year's meeting, but was injured in the first half after only gaining 13 yards on two carries.

It was easy to see that Arkansas State had a good defensive plan for Jakes, in fact the Red Wolves may have been better off if Jakes had not been injured and stayed in the game for the entire contest.

Red Shirt freshman James Mauro came in as relief for Jakes, led the Hilltoppers to two touchdowns on eight completions on 12 attempts for a total of 104 yards.

WKU had a hard time mustering offense in the second half, used good halftime adjustments and Mauro's passing to loosen up the Red Wolves defensive attack.

Mauro's passing set up Western Kentucky's rushing game in the second half. ASU's defense held WKU's Antonio Andrews to 82 yards on 10 carries. Hilltopper Head Coach Willie Taggert saw a different result in the run game, with Andrews finishing the game with 224 yards on 29 carries.

Arkansas State's defense had an answer for Western Kentucky in the first half of play, but the second half was definitely a different story.

The Red Wolves had 212 total yards in the first half, but was only able to muster 123 yards in the second half of play.

While Saturday's loss was disappointing to Red Wolf players, coaches and fans, it must be pointed out that this Western Kentucky team is better than advertised.

The Hilltopper's defensive front is one of the fastest in the conference, giving No. 1 Alabama fits, sacking the Crimson Tide signal caller 6 times when they played earlier this month.

No one realized how good Arkansas State and Western Kentucky were last season, Gus Malzahn has said on several occasions that this ASU team was a work in progress.

The first half progress was outstanding, now the Red Wolves have to figure out how to put two halves together to play a complete game against FIU on the road in Miami in just five days.

Don't push the panic button just yet Red Wolf fans, this is a team that will continue to improve as the season continues.

Losing their first conference game since 2010 wasn't an easy pill to swallow, but what doesn't kill you often makes you stronger, Malzahn is hoping that will be the case from his conference opener as a head coach for Arkansas State.