Second Half Lifts Red Wolves

Blake Anderson’s first game as Arkansas State’s Head Coach was anything but perfect. At times, the offense was not in sync, racking up yards but not points in the first half. The defense rose to the occasion, stifling Montana State on third downs but had to dodge some bullets. Worse, it seemed like an injury occurred every possession,

The one sure thing for Arkansas State, in the 37-10 win over Montana State, was junior kicker Luke Ferguson.

The junior added placekicking duties this season going three for three on field goals and four for four on PATs. After splitting punting duty last year, he had four punts for 194 yards for a 48.5 yard average.

“That’s as good as I have ever seen him kick it” said head coach Blake Anderson “We challenged him, because he wasn’t real consistent (in practice) last week and I thought he played like a champ tonight.”

The Red Wolves opened the game with a three play 75 yard scoring drive that took :41 seconds, led by first time starter but 2014 GoDaddy bowl MVP Fredi Knighten.

Despite losing two of his “go-to” guys, RB Michael “Flash” Gordon & WR J.D. McKissic, and two O-linemen, Tyler Greeves & Kenny Rains, throughout the night, he finished the game with 219 passing yards on 19-29 passing,104 rushing yards on 15 carries, leading all other Red Wolf rushers. Knighten added one reception for 45 yards. He finished the night with 368 total yards of offense.

“I feel good (after my first start)”said Knighten “We’ve got great players that make my job a lot easier. We tried to put play-makers in space, JD (McKissic) and Tres (Houston) did a great job, they both had over 80 yards catching, so they defiantly made it a lot easier for me.”

Despite the offensive outpouring from Fredi Knighten, the Red Wolves struggled to get into the end zone in the first half. After the opening series touchdown run by Michael Gordon, the Red Wolves did not find the end zone again until 1:53 remained in the 3rd quarter.

Knighten remained confident in his team: “I was not concerned at all (about the score)” said the QB “I’ve seen these guys make plays time and time again during fall camp…I had no worries at all.”

Defensively, the Red Wolves where able to hold Montana State to just 10 points on 228 total yards of offense (86 rushing yards, 122 passing yards.) The Red Wolves also had four sacks for a loss of 24 yards.

Xavier Woodson, Sterling Young and Qushaun Lee lead the charge defensively with seven, six and five tackles respectively. Lee also had an interception. Woodson, who led the team in tackles tonight, was originally behind A.J. Turner on the depth chart, but moved into a starting role after Turner was dismissed from the team.
,br> “His performance tonight doesn’t surprise me” said Coach Anderson “he had, what I thought, was one of our better springs. He’s gotten better all fall camp, he can run and really cover ground. I know some guys were projected to play in front of him, but he was always gonna play a lot of snaps regardless.”

Redshirt senior “Q” Lee was one of the team leaders in tackles and despite battling an injury added and interception.

“He was amazing” said first year head coach Blake Anderson “He’s a guy that loves team. You could see it in his face (that he was in pain), but you couldn’t tell it by the way he was playing.

The Red Wolves seemed injury-plagued in the game.

“I think Money (Hunter’s) was more of a concussion thought type process” said Anderson “Mike (Gordon’s) was ribs, as well as Q (Lee’s), but he just did not feel as good as Q. Kenny (Rains’) was somewhere along the knee, I don’t know how bad it is.”

Center Tyler Greve experienced injuries in the game but is expected to be ready for Tennessee.

Now, that Coach Blake Anderson has his first victory as a head coach under his belt, the Red Wolves will turn their attention to the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville next Saturday.

“We’ve gotta find a way to travel against a really good opponent” said Coach Anderson “We’ll be watching (when the Vols play Utah State) to try to see where we can attack Tennessee.”