JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - 624 yards of total offense propelled Arkansas State to a 70-7 victory over Missouri State on Saturday night at Centennial Bank Stadium. An announced crowd of 26,634 witnessed the Red Wolves get their first victory of the 2015 season and improve to 1-2 on the year.
Redshirt Freshman Quarterback James Tabary got the start in place of senior Fredi Knighten, who was out with a groin injury. Knighten is expected to return in the teams next game against Toledo but Tabary took advantage of his opportunity to shine.
Tabary was 21-24 passing with 255 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He opened the scoring by hitting Darion Griswold for a 16 yard pass to give Arkansas State the early 7-0 lead. Perhaps as impressive as any number on Tabary's line, the lone sack he took. The banged up A-State offensive line held strong all game, allowing just one sack for the duration. The Missouri State defensive line is one of the teams strong points, putting up the likes of 306 pound tackle Daryl Colburn.
The line also set the tone for a great night of rushing. 344 yards on the ground for A-State with four different backs scoring touchdowns. Michael Gordon led in yardage with 92 while Johnston White led in touchdowns with three.
Defensively, Arkansas State played well. Not long into the first quarter, Khari Lain intercepted a pass from Bears quarterback Brodie Lambert and took it 44 yards to pay dirt. The Red Wolves defense gave up just 341 total yards to Missouri State and forced the Bears to punt 10 times while only allowing 16 first downs.
"It was another beautiful night with a great crowd," said Head Coach Blake Anderson, "We challenged them all week to bring the same energy level we had the first two weeks."
Anderson was happy to see his team put a complete game together. His chief complaint from the week two loss to #21 Missouri was the lack of a wholesome performance. He didn't have that issue on Saturday night. "They watched film just like we did and knew that the talent level was going to be different," Anderson said after the win, "They didn't have a let down in terms of focus, and not to have a let down in terms of effort."
He also expressed his pleasure with the play of offense, including the play of his quarterback. "He played great, I think we all knew he could," Anderson said. The coach added that there were many offensive successes in the game as a whole. "I thought the O-line did a fantastic job and Walt calling a game that allowed him to get comfortable."
The redshirt freshman was humble after his first career start. "I thought everything went well," said Tabary, "Everybody else did their job which let me do my job and credit to all the O-Linemen, runningback, and receivers, so I thought it went really well."
On defense, holding a team to just seven points while also scoring a touchdown left the unit in good spirits. "I was actually tired, real tired on that play because we had been running around," said Lain when asked about scoring his touchdown of the interception, "I made a play, I seen it in the air and have to give credit to Cody who actually caused the forced hit."
The Red Wolves now turn their sites on a GoDaddy Bowl re-match. Arkansas State will travel to Toledo on Saturday to face off with the Rockets.
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