JONESBORO, Ark. (9/8/12) – The Arkansas State football team (1-1) piled up 619 yards of total offense as the Red Wolves defeated the Memphis Tigers 33-28 Saturday night before 28,041 fans at Liberty Bank Stadium.
The crowd was the fourth-largest to watch a game in Jonesboro in ASU history and marked the home debut of first-year head coach Gus Malzahn. The Red Wolves 619 yards of total offense was their most against an FBS opponent since recording a school-record 681 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007. ASU also ran 97 offensive plays on the night, the most since the team had 98 against Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1975.
ASU rallied from a 14-3 deficit behind a strong effort from running back David Oku. The junior ran for 130 yards on 25 carries, including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter with 6:31 left in the game. The victory was ASU's seventh consecutive home victory and its ninth straight victory in home openers.
"I'm very proud of our team," Malzahn said. "Our defense was playing well and we found ourselves behind, but I was very proud of the way they responded. I told them that's the heart of a champion."
ASU outscored Memphis 16-7 in the second half and took its first lead of the game when Frankie Jackson scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 7:59 left in the third quarter. The score capped a 13-play, 89-yard drive for the Red Wolves.
Memphis took the lead back when Wynton McManis recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to give the Tigers a 28-24 edge. ASU cut into the Memphis lead on its next drive when Brian Davis connected on a 25-yard field goal to pull A-State within 28-27.
The Tigers missed an opportunity to extend their lead on their next drive when Paul Henriques missed a 25-yard field goal. ASU took advantage of the opportunity and marched 80-yards in nine plays and scored on Oku's game-winning touchdown run.
The Red Wolves fell behind early in the first quarter when Memphis took its opening drive 77 yards for a touchdown. ASU responded with a 23-yard field goal from Davis on its opening drive to cut the Tigers' lead to 7-3.
Tevin Jones helped Memphis push the lead to 14-3 when he recovered a blocked punt in ASU's end zone. Jackson helped ASU pull within 14-10 with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:56 left in the first half, but the Tigers quickly pushed the lead to 21-10 Jacob Karam connected with Keiwone Malone for a 41-yard touchdown.
"A lot of teams would have packed it up because that's a tough deal to overcome," Malzahn said. "I'm very proud of the way our defense played and very proud of how we finished the game offensively."
Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin tossed his only touchdown pass with 3:18 left in the second quarter on a 42-yard pass to Josh Jarboe to cut the Memphis lead to 21-17. Aplin finished the night 23-of-43 for 302 yards. He also added 73 rushing yards to finish with 375 yards of total offense, which is the eighth most in school history.
Jarboe finished six receptions for 101 yards, while J.D. McKissic had 99 yards receiving on eight catches. Freshman Rocky Hayes ran for 68 yards on four carries, while Jackson added 34 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Defensively for ASU, Ryan Carrethers led the team with 10 tackles, while Tim Starson recorded the game's only sack. The Red Wolves held the Memphis offense to 293 yards, the fewest by an ASU opponent since FAU recorded just 281 last season.
The Red Wolves will return to action Sept. 15 when they travel to Lincoln, Neb. for a matchup with 16th-ranked Nebraska. Kickoff against the Huskers is scheduled for 11 a.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
TEAM • In recognition of a $5 million contribution by Liberty Bank, the ASU Board of Trustees announced Saturday that Liberty Bank Stadium is the new name of the football stadium at Arkansas State University. The naming rights to the stadium are for the next 15 years, as announced at the newly-named facility just prior to kickoff of the Red Wolves' home football game against the Memphis Tigers. • The crowd for tonight's game was 28,401, which was the fourth largest in school history. • ASU extended its home winning streak to seven games. • A-State won its second consecutive game against Memphis, and now holds a 23-28-5 all-time record against the Tigers. • A-State extended its winning streak in home openers in Jonesboro to eight games.
OFFENSE • ASU recorded over 300 yards of offense for the 12th consecutive game and now in 26 of its last 27 games. • The Red Wolves have recorded over 500 yards of total offense in both games this season. • A-State's 619 yards of total offense are the eighth most in school history and its most against an FBS opponent since recording a school-record 681 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette. • ASU's 97 plays were the third most in school history and the most since posting 98 against Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1975. • ASU set the school record for first downs in a game with 33, topping the previous total of 28 set against Southern Illinois in 1982. • ASU's 317 rushing yards were its most in a game since recording 375 against UCA last season. The last time ASU had more rushing yards against an FBS opponent was 2007 when it recorded 406 against Louisiana-Lafayette. • ASU didn't allow a single sack for the second consecutive game. • Ryan Aplin threw at least one touchdown pass for the 12th consecutive game. • Ryan Aplin threw for at least 300 yards for the fourth consecutive game dating back to last season. Aplin has now passed for at least 200 yards 24 times in his career and all 24 times have come over ASU's last 29 games. • Ryan Aplin finished with 375 yards total offense, the eighth most in school history. He now has 15 career games with over 300 yards total offense, including the last five games in a row. • Frankie Jackson recorded a career-high two rushing touchdowns, giving him seven rushing touchdowns for his career. • Rocky Hayes saw his first action in the ASU offensive backfield, recording 68 rushing yards on just four attempts with a long run of 33 yards. • David Oku led ASU in rushing for the second straight game, posting a career-high 130 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season. Oku became the first ASU player to rush for 100 yards in a game since Frankie Jackson rushed for 101 yards against Memphis last season. • J.D. McKissic recorded eight receptions for 99 yards, both career highs. He also had a 30-yard reception that was a personal long. • Josh Jarboe recorded a season-high 101 receiving yards, and hauled in a receiving touchdown for the second straight game to give him four for his career.
DEFENSE • ASU held Memphis to 293 yards total offense, the fewest by an ASU opponent since FAU recorded 281 last season. • The Red Wolves recorded six tackles for loss to tie their season high. • Nathan Herrold narrowly missed reaching double-figure tackles for the second consecutive game with nine. He also forced a fumble. • Chaz Scales recorded a season-high eight tackles, just two shy of his career high. • Ryan Carrethers recorded a career-high 10 tackles. • Tim Starson recorded his first sack of the season and the second of his career . . . He also posted a career-high two tackles for loss. • Cole Lorigan recorded a career-high eight tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS • Brian Davis moved into a tie at ASU for the sixth most field goals made in a career with 28 . . . He was 2-of-3 on field goal attempts to make him 4-of-6 on the season.