Red Wolves hold on for win over Georgia State
Arkansas State (7-4, 5-1 Sun Belt) got back to back scores from their defense and teams to start the third quarter before denying Georgia State (0-11, 0-6) to score the tying two-point conversion as Arkansas State held on for a 35-33 win over the Panthers this past Saturday at Liberty Bank Stadium.
ASU got the ball first and J.D. McKissic gave the Red Wolves great field position with a 43 yard kickoff return out to the Red Wolves 43-yard line. A short run followed by a 22-yard pass to Michael Gordon and a 32-yard pass to Darion Griswold put ASU in the end zone for a 6-0 lead. Brian Davis was good on the point-after to make it 7-0. The teams traded possessions before the Panthers recovered a David Oku fumble at the Red Wolves 40-yard line with 11:51 left in the opening quarter. Georgia State capitalized on the turnover as Wil Lutz kicked a 40-yard field goal with 9:04 left to make it 7-3. The Red Wolves offense sputtered it's next two possessions not being able to get a first down. The Panthers took the ASU punt after the second possession and mounted a six play 69 yard drive that ended in Ronnie Bell rushing in from four yards out with 1:45 left. Lutz's point-after made it 10-7 GSU.
The Red Wolves had a chance to tie the game up as Davis attempted a 44 yard field goal with 7:36 left before half. Davis' kick hit the left upright leaving the score at 10-7 Panthers. ASU looked as if they were going to score again as Kyle Coleman picked up a fumbled and headed to the end zone. The ball was punched out from behind at the two-yard line and went through the end zone for a touchback giving the ball to GSU on their own 20-yard line. The Panthers wasted little time as Albert Wilson took the handoff and sprinted 80 yards for the touchdown. Lutz was again good on the extra point to make 17-7 GSU with 6:42 left in the second quarter. The teams again traded possessions with neither offense doing much. The Panthers took a 17-7 lead to half.
The Red Wolves defense came up big on the second play of the third quarter as Chirs Stone knocked the ball loose and Sterling Young caught it in air and raced 21 yards for a touchdown. Davis' kick cut the lead to 17-14. ASU's special teams got in on the scoring on the next Panthers possession as Brock Barnhill blocked Matt Hubbard's punt with Raziel Valgis falling on the ball in the end zone for an Arkansas State touchdown. Davis again was good on the extra-point to give ASU the lead 21-17. The lead was short lived as the Panthers went on a five play 75 yard drive that ended with Bell hitting Kelton Hill with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 9:11 left. Lutz' point-after made it 24-21 GSU. The Red Wolves took the lead for good when Gordon scored from five yards out with 3:39 left in the third. Davis tacked on the point after making it 28-24 Red Wolves and that is where the score remained at the end of the quarter.
The Panthers cut the lead to one as Lutz hit a 35 yard field goal on the first play of the final quarter to make it 28-27. ASU responded with an eight play 64 yard drive that used up four minutes with McKissic catching a five yard pass from Adam Kennedy for the score. Davis' extra-point gave the Red Wolves the lead for good at 35-27. The Panthers started their final drive of the night at their own 30-yard line with 3:03 left. GSU wasted little time as Hill took the reverse handoff from Bell before pulling up an hitting Wilson who scampered 70 yards for the score making it 35-33. The Panthers went for two and the tie but Bell's pass fell incomplete. The Red Wolves were able to run the clock out for the win.
Kennedy led the Red Wolves with 80 yards rushing and completed 14 of 19 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Gordon added 56 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Gordon and McKissic had 53 and 51 yards receiving respectively.
Ryan Carrethers led the ASU defense with 12 tackles, a half sack and one and a half tackles for a loss. Dexter Blackmon and Qushaun Lee each had seven tackles for the Red Wolves. Blackmon had a sack and a half and three tackles for a loss.
Arkansas State, who is bowl-eligible, will end their regular season as they travel to Western Kentucky to take on the Hilltoppers.