North Texas played its final game against Ryan Aplin on Saturday night when the Mean Green faced Arkansas State.
That’s good news for UNT, which has struggled mightily against the Red Wolves’ standout quarterback throughout his career.
The Mean Green’s 37-19 loss to ASU was just the latest example.
Aplin threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns and tacked on a rushing touchdown.
“There is nothing that he does that surprises me,” UNT head coach Dan McCarney said. “I’ve seen him now for two seasons. He does it consistently. He is a tremendous football player. He leads. He makes plays. When something bad happens, he doesn’t flinch. He has great presence. You can see if from the sidelines.”
UNT led twice in the first quarter but saw Aplin answer each time.
The Mean Green took a 2-0 lead when Rocky Hayes started to take the ball out of the end zone on the opening kickoff before kneeling on the ball behind the goal line. Officials ruled that Hayes had come out and awarded UNT a safety.
Aplin came right back and threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Julian Jones the next time ASU had the ball.
UNT took a 9-7 lead on Derek Thompson’s 2-yard touchdown run, but once again Aplin had an answer. He led ASU on a 10-play drive that produced a Brian Davis 39-yard field goal and then scored on a 5-yard run to put the Red Wolves up 16-9.
UNT never recovered.
It was a familiar feeling for the Mean Green.
Aplin averaged 244 passing yards and 84 rushing yards while leading ASU to three wins over UNT in his first three years with the Red Wolves. He rushed for four touchdowns and threw for four more in those three games.
Aplin was even better in his final game against the Mean Green, accounting for three touchdowns on a night ASU rolled up 474 yards of total offense.
Aplin was the Sun Belt’s Player of the Year last season and is in the midst of another standout year. He was averaging 263.5 yards of offense a game heading into Saturday.
He surpassed that mark quickly in another big game against the Mean Green.
“He’s a pretty good quarterback,” UNT linebacker Zach Orr said. “He was the MVP of the league last year, but anyone could go out there and throw for a lot of yards with the way we played, especially in the first half.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.