Arkansas State bounces back against ULM

Updated: October 6, 2003, 1:09 AM ET

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas State didn't come close to attracting the 30,000 people it wanted to War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, but the Indians came up with something better -- a victory.

The 44-41 win over Louisiana-Monroe in front of 20,135 does a number of things for coach Steve Roberts' crew.

It was the first win this season over an NCAA Division I opponent. It evened the overall and Sun Belt Conference records at 3-3 and 1-1 before a trip to Oxford, Miss., to play Ole Miss and record-setting quarterback Eli Manning.

And running back Shermar Bracey showed off the skills everyone in Arkansas has been waiting to see. The former Rison standout, who committed to play at Arkansas in 2000 before going to junior college, rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

His 71-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter started a 35-point second half for Arkansas State to overcome a 23-9 halftime deficit.

"I've been needing a night like this," Bracey said. "It's a homecoming for me."

It was Bracey's first game at War Memorial since Rison snapped Shiloh Christian's 44-game unbeaten streak in the 2000 Class AA state title game. Bracey was named the most valuable player in that game with 184 yards rushing on 34 carries.

Bracey, who took over the main rushing duties after starter Antonio Warren suffered a blow to his head, is part of a crowded backfield. He entered the game with 225 yards on 42 carries in the first five games.

In the second quarter, he warmed up his legs by picking up Arkansas State's initial first down of the game and he five carries for 44 yards on a six-play drive that ended with his 15-yard touchdown.

"Offensively, Antonio went down early and Shermar came in and started feeling it a little bit," Roberts said. "We just needed to keep pounding and keep pounding."

That's what Bracey did in the second half, rushing 18 times for 131 yards while quarterback Elliot Jacobs threw for a career-high three touchdowns.

Jacobs' first one, a 2-yard throw to tight end Mike Brooks, was set up by Johnathan Burke's fifth interception of the season. That tied the game at 23-23.

His next two scoring throws were just as important.

A 35-yard touchdown to Jerome Stegall retied the game at 30-30, answering a 55-yard touchdown reception by ULM's Kevin Payne. Payne, a redshirt freshman from Junction City, had 169 yards rushing and 58 yards receiving.

ULM only needed three plays to reclaim the lead on Payne's dash after a short reception, but Jacobs directed an 80-yard drive in five plays.

Bracey had three carries for 19 yards, while Jacobs completed a 26-yard pass to fullback Oren O'Neal to set up the pass to Stegall, who iced the game in the fourth quarter by returning a fumbled punt 12 yards for a touchdowns.

After ULM quarterback Steven Jyles, whose 330 yards and four touchdowns passing was marred by three turnovers, fumbled at the ASU 34, Jacobs and Bracey started marching again.

With the game tied at 30-30, Jacobs directed a 12-play drive that took 5:21 off the clock. ASU failed to convert on two third-down attempts on the drive, but Roberts had enough faith in his offensive line for two fourth-and-1s.

Bracey picked up three yards on the first one at the ASU 45 and Jacobs picked up seven yards from the ULM 20.

Jacobs, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 138 yards, capped the drive with a rollout pass to backup tight end Manuel Burton for ASU's first lead of the game at 37-30.

"Elliot Jacobs was as good in the second half as I've seen him," Roberts said. "He made some great plays."

After going to Ole Miss for a game this Saturday, Arkansas State will have a week off before finishing with five Sun Belt games. The Indians will be at Utah State on Oct. 25 and they won't be home again until a Nov. 8 game against Idaho.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index