We have seen this before, but this time there was major role reversal.
After a 17-17 game at halftime, the Arkansas State Red Wolves were dominated in the second half, losing big in the third quarter and it paved the way for Louisiana Tech to defeat A-State 47-28 Saturday night in the New Orleans Bowl.
The Red Wolves (9-4) were outscored 17-3 in a telling third quarter when the Bulldogs (9-4) took control of a game that was still close – 20-20 with 8:17 left in the third. Tech finished with 213 yards and A-State had just 50. After tying to score on JD Houston’s 37-yard field goal A-State ran just six plays the rest of the quarter while being outscored 14-0.
In the second half ASU had 98 yards of offense.
It did not help that the Red Wolves came into the game without starting defensive end Chris Stone, a player who could play both the run and pass, and reserve wide receiver Tyler Trosin, who were suspended after their drug arrests, but during the game lost wide receiver JD McKissic, running back Michael Gordon and offensive lineman Colton Jackson, all three all-conference players.
Senior punter Luke Ferguson capped off a strong season with another good performance. The senior from Jonesboro punted five times for a 40.0 average and had three kicks downed inside the 20.
THE TURNVOER BATTLE
An area Arkansas State has dominated since conference play was lost bigtime against the Bulldogs. Tech, which had seven turnovers in its season finale against Southern Miss, had zero turnovers while the Red Wolves lost a fumble and had two interceptions.
BLAISE A TRAIL
With Michael Gordon going out in the first quarter, Blaise Taylor gave the Red Wolves a fourth-quarter lift with a 98-yard kickoff return. He also had a 41-yard punt return that set up the tying touchdown in the second quarter.
THE OTHER QB
When the Bulldogs turned the corner in the third quarter it was in part because quarterback Josh Driskell was able to have success passing against the A-State linebackers and secondary. A-State could not consistently get pressure on the QB.
He finished 26 of 38 for 453 yards and three touchdowns.
The announced crowd was 32,847, the fifth best in the bowl’s 15-year history.
“The season has been a long one for us,’’ said Blake Anderson. “I felt like we would play a little better, but we didn’t execute. Turnovers and penalties were the two things that stood out. Louisiana Tech did a good job.”