Watching this game I kept hearing the voice of Apollo Creed telling Rocky Balboa “ain’t going to be no rematch.”
The Arkansas State Red Wolves’ third meeting with the Toledo Rockets in the past 20 months was a lot like the previous two.
The Rockets left Jonesboro with a 31-10 victory in a game that wasn’t that close. A-State showed a little in the fourth quarter, a 2-year Armond Weh-Weh touchdown that was set up by an 83-yard pass play to Blake Mack, followed by a drive that ended with a dropped pass in the end zone that would have made it a two-score game with 3:18 left. (That was also the drive where Cam Echols-Luper had a punt return inside the Toledo 20 erased by a penalty.)
It was not the running game of the Rockets, although they did finish with 185, 40 of that one a fourth-quarter run. But the efficient passing game (23 of 31 for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns.) that nailed the Red Wolves’ coffin.
“Coming down to play what I thought was a really good football team and a very unbelievable crowd I thought they had a lot of spirit and lot of energy around here,’’ said Toledo coach Jason Candle. “To come in here and handle this environment and play really well and to get off to a good start and get a win is certainly a good step in the right direction.”
Aside from the passing of Logan Woodside, the Rockets were 12 of 17 on third down and did not fail to convert on any in the second and third quarters when they made eight straight.
Coach Blake Anderson said the Red Wolves offense was searching all night long and not being able to run put the team in a bind.
“This was not a quarterback issue it is a team issue,’’ said Anderson. “And in all three phases.”
Toledo finished with 556 yards offense while the Red Wolves had 266 - 142 running and 124 passing.
The game drew a crowd of 26,182 and is the final of a two-game contract with the Rockets.
“We did not really think we played well in any phase of the game,’’ said Anderson. “We struggled to get them off the field defensively. We were really poor on third down and that kind of played into what they wanted to do. We really couldn't get anything going.”
ON A POSITIVE NOTE”
-- JD Houston hit his only field goal (43 yards) and extra point.
-- Echols-Luper gets credit for a 24-yard punt return after a penalty took away more than half.
-- Kickoff coverage was strong.
--A-State was plus-2 in the turnovers.
--Warren Wand had 77 yards on 12 carries and Armond Weh-Weh 29 yards on five carries.
--Injuries: Robert Mondie has a bad ankle and was pulled early and Johnston White has a hamstring issue.