A-State sets SBC Record for Total Offense in 68-35 win over New Mexico State
JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State football squad racked up a Sun Belt Conference record 764 yards of total offense and outscored SBC foe New Mexico State 41-14 in the second half en route to a 68-35 victory at Centennial Bank Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Red Wolves (7-5, 5-3) accumulated 393 yards of offense in the first half, but held a 27-21 halftime lead. A-State opened the scoring in the second half with touchdown runs from Michael Gordon and Fredi Knighten to open a 41-21 advantage. Gordon's run, his last of four total touchdowns, came from 19 yards out at the 9:41 mark in the third period, while Knighten's two-yard run came only three minutes later.
New Mexico State (2-10, 1-7) scored a touchdown to cut the lead to 41-28 when Tyler Rogers connected with Adam Shapiro from four yards out with three minutes left in the third quarter, but the Red Wolves closed the period with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Rains to set the score at 48-28.
The fourth quarter began with A-State's Brandon Byner scoring his first career touchdown on a seven-yard run to set the score at 54-28 following a failed PAT attempt. Tyler Trosin set the score at 61-28 when he took his first career carry 32 yards to the end zone to finish the offense's scoring on the night. NMSU's Rogers found Gregory Hogan for a 35-yard touchdown catch to put the score at 61-35, and Andrew Tryon capped the scoring with a 46-yard interception return in his final game at Centennial Bank Stadium.
A-State finished the game with 469 yards rushing and 295 yards passing with Knighten picking up 449 yards of total offense, the second highest total in school history. The 764 yards topped the previous conference record, held by Idaho in 2001 against Middle Tennessee State, by four yards.
Gordon added 143 yards on the ground with three scores and also hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass. Johnston White gave the Red Wolves three rushers over 100 yards with a 12 carry, 110-yard performance, while Tres Houston registered a career-high 102 yards on four catches, including a 67-yarder for A-State's second longest passing play of the season.
“They struggled to stop the run and we knew that coming in,” A-State head coach Blake Anderson said. “So we challenged ourselves and the offensive line all week that we needed to run the ball. The tempo was moving pretty good and it seemed like every other run was an explosive play.”
Money Hunter and Qushuan Lee led all tacklers with 11 each, while Hunter added one of the team's two sacks on the night. Chris Stone picked up the other sack, while Darrius Rosser, Dexter Blackmon, and Blaise Taylor each added one tackle-for-loss. Artez Brown picked off his fourth interception of the season in the first half, while Tryon added two pass breakups and his second interception of the campaign.
Gordon's 45-yard touchdown reception opened the scoring with 12:54 left in the opening frame, but New Mexico State scored on an eight-yard pass to tie the contest at 7-7 late in the quarter. A-State regained the lead quickly on Gordon's first rushing touchdown of the game, a 35-yarder, early in the second quarter, but a missed extra point put the score at 13-7. The Aggies struck back just two minutes later with an 80-yard run by Larry Rose III to earn a 14-13 edge.
However, NMSU's lead would be short-lived as the Red Wolves scored less than a minute later as Knighten capped a three-play, 43-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, but the Aggies retook the lead 21-20 just 11 seconds later as Rogers connected with Hogan for a 75-yard touchdown. Gordon concluded the scoring of the opening half with a 19-yard run that would give the Red Wolves a 27-21 advantage at halftime.
Arkansas State honored 14 seniors before the game, including 10 redshirt seniors that played under five different head coaches in five years. The Red Wolves are seeking their fourth straight bowl appearance and must wait to find out if they will receive an invite.