Rucker sets records as A-State routs ULM

Arkansas State’s Corey Rucker tries to shake off a Louisiana-Monroe defender during Saturday’s game at Centennial Bank Stadium. Rucker set an ASU single-game receiving yardage record as he caught nine passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Wolves’ 48-15 victory.

JONESBORO — Corey Rucker’s first start for Arkansas State was one for multiple record books.

Rucker set ASU’s single-game record for receiving yards Saturday afternoon with 310 yards on nine receptions in the Red Wolves’ 48-15 rout of winless Louisiana-Monroe. He tied the single-game school record for receiving touchdowns with four.

Starting because of an injury to senior star Jonathan Adams Jr., Rucker also set the NCAA record for receiving yards in a game for a freshman and finished 17 yards short of the Sun Belt Conference single-game record. His yardage total Saturday is the highest in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 2016.

“I didn’t know I was getting that close to records,” said Rucker, a 6-2, 190-pound freshman from Yazoo City, Miss. “I had no idea I was that close to 300 yards. It was easy to count the touchdowns, but for the most part, I was just going, just kept playing ball.”

Rucker’s stats were the highlight of a big day for ASU’s passing game as the Red Wolves (4-7, 2-6 Sun Belt) ended a five-game losing streak. ASU finished with 511 passing yards as sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher completed 11-of-14 attempts for 326 yards and five touchdowns.

Sophomore receiver Jeff Foreman had a big day, too, finishing with four receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Junior starting quarterback Logan Bonner was 6-of-17 for 185 yards and a touchdown.

Rucker began the day with seven receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown this season. He broke an ASU single-game receiving yardage record that had stood since 1997, when Lennie Johnson had 284 yards against Missouri State.

“That is a remarkable, remarkable game for a young guy, especially to not let the moment be bigger than him,” ASU head coach Blake Anderson said. “... We challenged him and he had a great week of practice and a great performance.”

Adams leads the Sun Belt with 79 receptions for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns. Anderson described Adams’ injury as a hairline fracture in his hip from a collision when he hit the ground recently.

“It will heal fine. It’s going to take a few weeks,” Anderson said. “He tried to play through it and it was just getting worse. He’s got too much ball ahead of him to risk it. He didn’t want to come off the field, but we all felt like it was the right thing, so he won’t play for us again this season.”

ULM (0-10, 0-7) played man-to-man pass coverage. While the Warhawks limited the Red Wolves to 78 rushing yards, they gave up several long pass plays.

Rucker caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter, a 55-yard strike from Bonner less than four minutes into the game and a 30-yard pass from Hatcher that gave ASU a 14-7 lead with 5:22 left in the quarter.

Foreman had touchdown catches of 15 and 46 yards from Hatcher in the second quarter as the Red Wolves took a 28-7 halftime lead. It was Rucker’s turn again on ASU’s first drive of the second half as he beat the Warhawks on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Hatcher.

Rucker’s final touchdown reception covered 31 yards in the fourth quarter. He went over 300 yards on his final reception, a 30-yard catch with 9:21 left in the game.

“Any time we hear a defense is playing man, the receiving room is going crazy. We’ve been waiting on this,” Rucker said. “Most times we get double coverage, cover three across the board. For someone to play man against receivers like us, it’s always fun because we’ve got so many wideouts who can get it done.”

ULM’s point total was the lowest against ASU all season. The Warhawks finished with just 323 total yards; they were 1-of-13 on third down and 1-of-5 on fourth down.

ASU has won 11 consecutive meetings with ULM. The Red Wolves close the season at home Saturday against Incarnate Word.

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