Jonesboro (ASU) – The defense broke a late 51-51 tie with three consecutive points and went on to claim a narrow 55-52 victory over the offense in the Arkansas State football team's annual spring game played Saturday night at ASU Stadium.
Using an adjusted scoring system put in place by the coaching staff, the defense jumped out to an early 19-0 lead after 26 plays and led 40-21 almost halfway through the 109-play game. However, the offense came back to take 51-48 advantage behind the strength of a Derek Lawson rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns by Phillip Butterfield.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Julian Jones recorded the last of his three interceptions a short time later to tie the game, and then Demario Davis recorded a sack and the defense forced a 3-and-out series to go back up 54-51. The offense had one last chance to win on the final drive of the game, recording three consecutive first downs to set up a 52-yard field goal attempt, but Amos Draper blocked the long attempt to seal the win for the defense.
"I was real pleased with how competitive we played tonight," said ASU head coach Steve Roberts. "I thought we started off slow offensively and were playing extremely well defensively to start it off. I was real proud of the way our offense fought back and made some plays. It was great to see it come down to a field goal there at the end."
Butterfield finished the game 30-of-54 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns, hitting sophomore receiver Allen Muse for two scores. Muse recorded a team-best five receptions for 64 yards, while Anthony Robinson, Dwayne Frampton and Derek Lawson hauled in four receptions each for a combined 91 yards. Lawson accounted for the other receiving touchdown, giving him one receiving and rushing for the game.
The Red Wolves' ground game was paced by Jermaine Robertson, rushing 11 times for 63 yards that included a 25-yard touchdown run. Lawson finished the game with 11 carries also netted 47 yards. Andre Smith followed with five rushes for 26 yards and also caught three passes for 32 yards.
"Phillip obviously started off shaky and had a couple of bad throws that led to turnovers, but came back and made some tremendous plays," said Roberts. "I thought our backs ran extremely hard. Jermaine Robertson and Derek Lawson, both those guys did some really good things."
Jones accounted for nine points alone with his three interceptions and also matched the team's most tackles with seven. Tausean Holmes, Darron Edwards and Javon McKinnon also had seven tackles each and Edwards added an interception and pass break-up. The defense got 12 points on six sacks recorded by Greg McCall, Timothy Starson, Davis, Justin Robertson, Nick Nelms and Bryan Hall.
"I thought we flew around defensively and made a lot of plays," said Roberts. "The team had a really strong spring and I'm proud of that. I'm excited about the success of our program in the future."