JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Arkansas State senior running back Michael Gordon rushed for three of the Red Wolves six rushing touchdowns in a 49-28 homecoming victory over Idaho Saturday night at Centennial Bank Stadium.
A-State (2-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) finished the game with 333 rushing yards and out-gained the Vandals (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) 521-338 in total yardage. Redshirt-freshman quarterback James Tabary was 16-for-25 passing for 188 yards with a touchdown and interception. Gordon led A-State with 221 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. Freshman Warren Wand had six carries for 70 yards and a touchdown and Johnston White added two touchdowns on 12 carries for 56 yards.
Senior wide receiver J.D. McKissic had four catches for 40 yards Saturday. With the four receptions, McKissic broke the Sun Belt Conference record for career receptions. McKissic leads the nation with his 264 catches and passed Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan (2007-10) who hauled in 262 receptions.
“Excited to get a conference win,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “I won’t take any win for granted. It was not pretty, but I thought we had a good game plan defensively and played really well. Offensively, third down was huge and being able to run the ball was huge. I was frustrated with the turnovers and we have to improve on that. But, to go 1-0 in conference play and get off to a good start was the challenge and the guys met it. We’ll celebrate it and get ready for a big one at South Alabama.”
An 11 play, 75-yard drive gave Idaho a 7-0 lead to open the game, but the Red Wolves wasted no time answering as Warren Wand rushed for a 50-yard touchdown. A-State rushed for 63 yards on the six-play drive with Wand covering 50 of those 63 yards.
After a Rocky Hayes interception thwarted an Idaho drive, the Vandals intercepted a pass by Tabary and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead over A-State. The Red Wolves responded quickly, with a two play, 75-yard drive capped by a second rushing touchdown of 50-plus yards. McKissic hauled in his second catch of the day for a gain of 11 yards to get the drive started. After an offside penalty, Michael Gordon took a handoff and powered past the Vandals defense for a 59-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 14-14.
The Red Wolves rushing attack paced a third scoring drive with Johnston White rumbling in from two yards out to give A-State a 21-14 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half. On the eight play 89-yard drive, the Red Wolves covered 82 yards with the rushing assault. Gordon was responsible for a bulk of the yards as he crossed the 100-yard plateau with a 55-yard run that moved A-State inside the Idaho red zone.
A methodical 19 play, 91-yard drive ran over six minutes off the clock ended with A-State taking a 28-14 edge to the halftime break. The Red Wolves rushed for another 47 yards on the drive and Gordon finished the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. With the drive, A-State finished with 231 rushing yards in the half.
The Red Wolves continued the barrage with a six play, 68-yard drive to gain a 35-14 edge early in the third quarter. Tabary was 2-for-2 passing on the drive finding Dijon Paschal for 18 yards and Darion Griswold for 23 yards before Gordon found pay dirt from 10 yards out for his third touchdown of the game.
Idaho got within 14 points again with a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jake Luton, but the Red Wolves answered with a drive that chewed up over six minutes of clock. Capping the 12 play, 75 yard drive was a two yard rushing touchdown by White, his second score of the night and the sixth by A-State. The Red Wolves offensive line paved the way for another 37 yards on the ground while penalties by Idaho helped A-State keep the drive moving.
Hayes’ second interception of the night set up A-State to expand upon its 42-21 lead with field position at the Idaho 34-yard line. Tabary hit Tres Houston for a 20-yard touchdown pass to build the A-State lead to 49-21.
Luton scrambled for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to trim the A-State advantage to 49-35. The Vandals attempted an onside kick, but the kick went out of bounds and the Red Wolves took the victory.
A-State returns to Sun Belt action on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at South Alabama. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) on ESPN2. The Red Wolves are back at Centennial Bank Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to take on Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. (CT) in a game televised on ESPN2.