Red Wolves Stronger in Second Half

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said he things fatigue played a big part in the Red Wolves’ 28-14 victory over UL-Monroe (3-2, 2-1) Saturday night.

“We felt like it might come down to our stamina vs. their stamina and I think we won that game, especially against their defensive line late in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter,’’ he said. “Our guys still had plenty of juice.”

The Red Wolves had 274 yards at halftime (ULM 155), 412 at the end of the third quarter and finished with 572.

A big part of the explosion came from junior running back Michael Gordon. A year ago he lit up the Warhawks for 4 touchdowns and had 78 yards rushing on 17 carries. He also caught a TD pass for 51 yards.

This time around, after having just 17 yards at halftime, he finished with 168 yards rushing and had a long run of 68 that set up the first score, a Fredi Knighten 3-yard run.

But that was mostly in the second half.

“We did try to simplify some in the second half,’’ said Anderson. “We went back to base Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 football.”

The offense moved the ball in the first half but had issues with turnovers – Knighten threw an interception and lost a fumble and had a third fumble on which Gordon recovered.

“After one of the turnovers I told him you are not going to keep being the quarterback if you keeping turning the ball over,’’ said Anderson. “He played better after that.”

Knighten did have a career night with 284 yards passing (21-36-2) and 71 yards rushing.

“One thing you need to remember he has been here a couple of years but he had not played a lot,’’ said Anderson. “But this is a new offense and new system and it is not easy to learn.

“We have a lot of guys who are still learning. We are going to try and speed up the learning curve as much as possible.”

Dijon Paschal caught five for 82 yards and J.D. McKissic had 8 for 120. The lone TD pass went to Tyler Trosin, who made a sliding catch in the end zone while being interfered with.

The Red Wolves’ defense gave up a long TD pass, the third week in a row, after leading 14-0 and a score late in the game with mostly reserves on the field. ULM managed just

Xavier Woodson led the tackle chart 10, seven solo tackles, three stops for loss and one sack. Red Wolves finished with four sacks. Freshmen Caleb Caston and Charles Grant each had one and Chris Stone had the other.

But the defense had plenty of hurries.

“They played much better than us in the second half and obviously that was the difference,’’ said ULM coach Todd Berry. “I don’t think either team wanted to win that much in the first half. They hit some explosive plays on us and that turned the tide.

“Our offensive execution was right now is really, really poor and we couldn’t do anything at the line of scrimmage. We couldn’t get anything established in the in the run or pass game and then all the explosive plays we gave up in the second half, which were mainly miss tackles. You know you can’t overcome that.”