Even Blake Anderson said he felt like time was moving slow and the second half would never end.
With the Louisiana-Lafayette gaining momentum, the Arkansas State Red Wolves held on for a 37-27 victory over the Cajuns in a Sun Belt Conference showdown Tuesday night in Jonesboro. The crowd was announced at 20,495 and the game was televised on ESPN2.
“I didn’t think that sucker was ever going to run out,’’ said Anderson of the second half clock. “It seemed to slow down and Lafayette was gaining momentum and we could not find a way to put them away.”
But the Red Wolves (4-3, 3-0 Sun Belt) did and took a major step toward bringing the Sun Belt Conference championship back to Jonesboro. A-State built a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter and was up 34-14 at the half.
ULL dominated the second half, 259 to 165 yards but was hurt by a Money Hunter interception in the end zone and coming up empty on their final two possessions once they got it to a two-score game.
“We’re just not starting fast enough in the first half; we haven’t been a first half team all year.’’ Said ULL coach March Hudspeth. “If we make our field goal, and don’t have our turnover then it’s a tie game, but give credit to Arkansas State, they have a good team and you could tell they were ready for us.”
The Red Wolves dominated the first half and shutout down the ULL rushing attack and standout junior Elijah McGuire. McGuirre ran for more than 250 yards in the rout in Louisiana last year was shut down in the run game (13 carries for 39 yards) but the Cajuns did find a way to connect to him in the passing game (10 receptions for 134 yards).
The Cajuns did have a big runner, quarterback Jalen Nixon had 19 carries for 201 yards but was just 17 of 44 passing for 253 yards and two interceptions (Cody Brown and Money Hunter).
WHAT IT MEANS
In a league where not all teams play each other the victory for the Red Wolves was big because as Blake Anderson said “we can still control our own destiny.”
The five Red Wolves in the interview room said they all planned to watch the Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern game on Thursday on EPSNU. Both teams are undefeated in league play and GSU does not play A-State or ULL.
Anderson said Warren Wand, Michael Gordon and Johnston White “together make a pretty good running back.” All 3 got carries on the night. Wand had 98 yards on 9 carries, Gordon 73 on 14 and White 62 on 10. Gordon and White had touchdowns. Wand also caught a pass for 24 yards.
Quarterback Fredi Knighten finished 8 of 19 passing for 129 yards with an interception and two touchdowns. He also ran for 72 yards on 14 carries.
Defensive score: Cody Brown’s 30-yard interception return was the Red Wolves’ fourth defensive score of the season, leading the NCAA.
The negatives: A-State had 16 yards in losses, 1 turnover and 20 yards in penalties. ULL had 14 yards in losses, 2 turnovers and 32 yards in penalties.
Luke Ferguson: The senior continued a strong year. He punted 6 times for a 48.3 yard average and a long of 66. Four of his kicks landed inside the 20. He also had 7 kickoffs and 4 of them were touchbacks.
Kickers: The Red Wolves’ placekickers came into the game perfect on 25 extra points and 4 of 5 on field goals. Drew White missed one of each. J.D. Houston added the final 4 PATs and added a big 42-yard field goal, the longest this season.