JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Arkansas State outscored Georgia State 21-0 in the fourth quarter Saturday at Centennial Bank Stadium to defeat the Panthers 48-34.
A-State (5-3, 4-0 Sun Belt) trailed 27-20 at the half, but the Red Wolves defense limited Georgia State (2-5, 1-2 Sun Belt) to 164 total yards in the second half to outscore the Panthers 28-7. The Red Wolves out-gained Georgia State 520-491 for the game behind 296 yards on the ground and 224 yards passing. The Panthers covered 390 yards through the air while rushing for 101 yards.
Senior quarterback Fredi Knighten passed for three touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing for 224 yards. Knighten was intercepted twice, once for a touchdown, but also rushed 19 times for 54 yards and a touchdown. For the night, Knighten accounted for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Freshman running back Warren Wand registered his first career 100-yard rushing game finishing with 119 yards on 11 carries and a 60-yard touchdown run. Senior Michael Gordon rushed 14 times for 59 yards and sophomore Johnston White added 37 yards on four carries with two touchdown runs.
Junior linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster led the A-State defense with 11 tackles, eight solo stops, along with a quarterback hurry. Sophomore linebacker Khari Lain and sophomore defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones each had two sacks and junior defensive end Chase Robinson added another as the Red Wolves tallied five sacks.
A-State stuffed Georgia State to a three-and-out on their first possession, giving the Red Wolves offense a chance to take an early lead. A-State drove inside the red zone, but an interception on third down thwarted the Red Wolves opportunity. Knighten found four different targets for 48 yards on his first four attempts, but an incompletion and interception ended the hopes on the first drive.
Georgia State took over after an A-State punt and converted on first down for the first time via a pass interference penalty against the Red Wolves on a pass play down the sideline. The penalty moved the Panthers into A-State territory, but Georgia State was unable to convert a 3rd-and-8 from the 21-yard line bringing on the field goal unit for a 38-yard field goal attempt. A-State’s Chris Odom blocked the field goal attempt to keep the Panthers scoreless.
A-State took over and drove 79 yards in eight plays to take a 6-0 lead with 4:04 left in the first quarter. Knighten passed for 41 yards on the drive, but the rushing attack highlighted the scoring drive. Gordon broke free for a 26-yard gain and Knighten plowed into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown of the season, a three-yard keeper.
Georgia State answered by using six plays to cover 80 yards to tie the game at 6-6. The Panthers picked up 73 of the 80 yards through the air with Nick Arbuckle finding Robert Davis for a gain of 23 yards to move the ball to the A-State 5-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty on A-State put the ball at the two and Demarcus Kirk scored to tie the game, but Odom blocked his second kick of the day to prevent Georgia State from taking the lead.
For the 19th time in the last 21 games under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen, the A-State defense forced a turnover. Ja’Von Rolland-Jones sacked the Panthers on 3rd-and-long and stripped the ball that Chris Stone scooped up and returned to the Georgia State 43-yard line. A-State converted a fourth down attempt on the ensuing drive, but the Panthers sacked Knighten on third down and forced an A-State punt that backed up Georgia State to their own 9-yard line.
Georgia State wasted no time getting out of the shadows of their own end zone as it took two passing plays and 32 seconds to tied the game at 13-all with the 91-yard scoring drive. Arbuckle found Donovan Harden for 66 yards on the first play and a 25-yard pass to Kyle Neal tied the game.
The two teams traded punts and after A-State took over, the Panthers used an A-State interception to turn it into a defensive touchdown to gain a 20-13 lead. After a three-yard rush, Chandon Sullivan intercepted Knighten and Sullivan returned it 25 yards for the score.
A-State answered with a rushing attack that saw Johnston White run the ball into the end zone on fourth down to tie the game at 20-all. Warren Wand burst for 21 yards on first down and followed with a three-yard rush. After a targeting call on Georgia State set up the Red Wolves at the Panthers 35-yard line, A-State rushed three more times to bring up 4th-and-1 with the clock going inside three minutes remaining in the first half. White took the handoff and scored from 26-yards away for his team-leading ninth rushing touchdown on the year.
Georgia State took a 27-20 lead to halftime after scoring with 10 seconds remaining in the half, but the Red Wolves used the opening possession of the second half to knot the score at 27-all. Knighten was 5-for-5 passing on the drive for 72 yards, finding Dijon Paschal for a 26-yard touchdown. The Panthers returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and grabbed the 34-27 lead with 11:17 left in the third quarter.
The Red Wolves forced Georgia State to punt with the clock winding down in the third quarter and Blaise Taylor fielded the punt at the A-State 32-yard line and returned it 53 yards. A-State started the fourth quarter at the Georgia State 15-yard line and four plays later tied the game at 34-34 on a 3-yard touchdown catch by Tres Houston.
A-State opportunistic defense continued their ways with their 16th interception in the last seven games on a second down play near midfield. Nehemia Wagner stepped in front of the pass by Arbuckle at the 35-yard line for his first career interception and the Red Wolves took over at their own 48-yard line with a chance to take the lead.
The Red Wolves kept the ball on the ground to find the endzone, as five plays and a penalty by Georgia State covered 52 yards for the score and a 41-34 lead. McKissic opened the drive with a 26-yard gain on a reverse play and a late hit after the player resulted in a 12-yard penalty. Four plays later, White tumbled into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night, this time from three yards out.
Wand went over the century mark with a 60-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes remaining. A-State rushed for 79 yards after the Red Wolves defense forced a Georgia State punt.
The A-State defense held Georgia State to 164 total yards in the second half, 117 prior to the Panthers final drive of the game that covered 47 yards before a fourth down try failed. In the second half, the Panthers were held to 11-of-23 passing for 124 yards and 16 rushes for 40 yards.
A-State faces a quick turnaround as the Red Wolves travel to Boone, N.C., for a key Sun Belt match up with Appalachian State on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 6:30 p.m. (CT) in a nationally televised contest on ESPNU.