KNOXVILLE, TN (KAIT) - Too many penalties against a young, but talented Southeastern Conference opponent doomed Arkansas State's football team Saturday afternoon in Knoxville, TN.
Tennessee (2-0) won 34 - 19 over the Red Wolves (1-1) at Neyland Stadium. Both teams showed sparks of greatness. The Volunteers held the Red Wolves to 331 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Tennessee ran up 415 yards of total offense.
Arkansas State forced the Volunteers to a three and out to start the game. Arkansas State took 2:13 off the clock going 40 yards for the first points of the game. Fredi Knighten ran four yards capping off the drive for the touchdown. The point after attempt by Luke Ferguson was no good.
Tennessee bounced back going 73 yards to the Arkansas State two yard line where Aaron Medley kicked a 20 yard field goal to cut the Red Wolves lead 6 - 3. The Vols then made it consecutive punting situations the Red Wolves and back to back touchdowns. Tennessee was up 24 - 12 at the half.
Tennessee made the third quarter much like the second keeping Arkansas State scoreless and extending their lead by a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, A-State made it interesting with a 24 yard touchdown run by DeKeathan Williams with 10:06 left cutting the lead to 19 - 31.
The Red Wolves defense kept the Vols from moving the ball and running out the clock late in the game. A late Tennessee field goal was the game's last points.
The Volunteers capitalized on Red Wolves penalties and their one turnover. Arkansas State had nine penalties setting them back 75 yards. Tennessee on the other hand had two penalties for 14 yards. In the second quarter, the Red Wolves defense held Tennessee deep in their own territory on a three and out only to have J.D. McKissic bobble the punt return setting up Tennessee with better field position and a fresh set of downs.
While Arkansas State picked up a $1,000,000 check, it did come with some costs. Starting running back Michael Gordon saw little playing time after an unknown injury early in the game. He had two carries for 12 yards. Starting linebacker Qushaun Lee spent time on the sidelines with what appeared to be bruised ribs.
"Third down was the key. We were really poor on third down and they did a pretty good job. They were 65, 70 percent on third down and we were way below our mark. And you're not going to win games against anybody much less a team that has as much talent as they've got. But really I'm proud of the guys and how hard they played. They played hard for the entire game and kept us hanging around would be the best way to say it," said Arkansas State Head Football Coach Blake Anderson.
The Red Wolves play Atlantic Coast Conference member Miami, FL (0 - 1) on the road next weekend.