Notes Quotes from the GoDaddy Bowl
A FEW THOUGHTS
This one went south in a hurry with a Fredi Knighten fumble on the first play of the game that gave points to the Rockets. Even though the Red Wolves would answer with a scoring drive to make it 7-7, A-State fell behind and played catch up all night long. And they never caught up.
Trailing 28-17 and driving right before halftime, Knighten’s second fumble resulted in a 66-yard scoring return and a 35-17 halftime lead for the Rockets.
It was a big night for the offense, on both teams. Toledo running back Kareem Hun, who ran for 271 yards and 5 touchdowns, and would have had the best ever vs. A-State except for tweaking his knee in the fourth quarter. His back up Damion Jones-Moore finished up and had 103 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.
Toledo finished with 541 yards and ran 17 more plays than the Red Wolves, who finished with 468 yards offense, all but 65 coming via the passing game.
“It really comes down to one huge thing, you can’t spot a really good football team 14 points and win very many of them,’’ said Coach Blake Anderson. “With that being said I thought our kids played extremely hard. We were fairly healthy for the first time in a long time; I thought we flew around well. I thought speed was the thing that kept us in it. But that was not our best football and mistakes early, getting 14 points in the hole early against a really good football team.
After the fumble recovered in the end zone on the opening play, Arkansas State answered with a 5 play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 44-yard pass to Booker Mays for the score. Hunt answered with scoring runs of 4 and 44 yards for a 21-7 Toledo run and the Red Wolves were chasing all night long.
After the 35-17 halftime deficit, A-State could never get it back to a one-score game in the final half.
The Red Wolves threw the ball with ease most of the night. Fredi Knighten finished 23 of 31 for 403 yards and a bowl record and school record 5 touchdowns. Booker Mays caught 5 for 138 yards and a school bowl record 3 touchdowns. J.D. McKissic, looking the best he has looked in months, caught 7 passes for 99 yards and had 1 rush for 9 yards.
SOME BRIGHT SPOTS
Rocky Hayes. The junior defensive back was inserted late in the game on kickoff returns and had two for 73 yards with a long of 37 yards.
Blake Mack. The freshman receiver, who has gained about 20 pounds since he came to A-State, grabbed two passes for 36 yards with a long of 27.
Qushaun Lee. The fifth-year senior linebacker, who had been the defensive MVP the past two GoDaddy game, finished with 14 tackles and a forced fumble.
Money Hunter. The sophomore defensive back had 11 tackles and returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown.
A FEW NUMBERS
*Third down woes: The Red Wolves were 4 of 12 while Toledo was 8 of 15 and 1 of 1 on fourth down.
*With the big strong offensive line, the Rockets started five seniors, ran 17 more plays than the Red Wolves.
*Luke Ferguson punted four times for a 40 yard average and had touchbacks on kickoffs.
*Logan Spry was perfect on five PATs and had a 31-yard field goal.
“Momentum’s a crazy thing in football; you have to try and keep it on your side. After giving them a 7-point start, we were able to come back and get things rolling again. We started having those conversations of making one play and one more stop in the second half, but we just couldn’t get one.” – Blake Anderson.
“I put us in a hole early. It’s hard to come back from giving the defense 14 points easy points. But the guys were resilient, they fought and I tried to give the everything I had. “ – A-State QB Fredi Knighten.
What it means: The Red Wolves finished the season with a 7-6 record, its worst in the last four season but still a fourth-straight winner. The Red Wolves are now 2-2 in GoDaddy Bowl.
The crowd: The announced attendance was at 36,811 and most of it was wearing red and black.
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