Logan, UT (A-State) – The Arkansas State football team outscored Utah State 20-10 in the second half, but a 24-0 halftime deficit was too much to overcome as the Aggies defeated the Red Wolves 34-20 at Maverick Stadium Friday.
"We responded as good as you could ask our guys to, third quarter especially by coming out and getting points," said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. "We found ways to get stops and get pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers, but I do not like the outcome. I thought we had a couple chances to win it there in the second half, but we needed to get another stop, not turn the ball over, or settle for a field goal."
Sophomore quarterback Justice Hansen completed 18-of-26 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown while sophomore running back Warren Wand rushed 14 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. Hansen targeted seven different receivers with junior tight end Blake Mack leading the way with seven catches for 82 yards.
"Justice came in and played really well, with the exception of the one turnover. He threw the ball extremely well and took control of the offense. We had some wide outs go make some plays and make some catches in competitive situations that we hadn't made the first two weeks."
A-State outgained the Aggies 357-334, including a 265-173 edge in the second half. The Red Wolves piled up 287 yards in the passing game and 70 yards on the ground. Utah State passed for 136 yards while rushing for 198 yards.
Senior defensive lineman Chris Odom and safety Money Hunter paced the Red Wolves with nine tackles, respectively. Odom had two of the three sacks on the night for the A-State defense and 11 players combined for nine tackles for loss.
Trailing 24-0 coming out of halftime, A-State marched down the field with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive to make it 24-7 early in the second half. Two pass interference penalties aided the effort, but Hansen was 3-for-3 passing for yards and Warren Wand capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Chris Odom registered his second sack of the night on third and long to force the Aggies to punt. The Red Wolves capitalized as three plays is all it took to find the endzone. Hansen hit junior wide out Cam Echols-Luper for a gain of 33 yards and two plays later hooked up with junior wide out Dijon Paschal for a 44-yard touchdown cutting the deficit to 24-14 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
Utah State used a 68-yard pass to move into the red zone on the ensuing drive, but A-State held the Aggies out of the endzone. A 30-yard field goal gave Utah State a 27-14 edge with 5:34 left in the third quarter. A-State got the field goal back early in the fourth quarter with a 23-yard field goal by J.D. Houston to make it 27-17 with 13:30 remaining.
Blaise Taylor gathered a tipped pass for an interception with 13:13 remaining, giving A-State a chance to trim the deficit. The Aggies defense responded with an interception of their own, the third turnover on the night by the Red Wolves. A-State's defense forced the Aggies to three-and-out and a punt of 14 yards put the Red Wolves offense at the Aggies 25 yard line with 10:25 left.
The Red Wolves moved inside the one yard line, but a false start penalty, the 17th penalty on the night, backed up A-State. After two plays resulted in no gain, Houston nailed the 22-yard field goal to put the Red Wolves deficit at 27-20 with 7:28 left.
A 13-play, 91-yard drive by Utah State spanned 6:53 to put the game out of reach for the Red Wolves. The Aggies converted on third and long twice to prolong the drive. Utah State quarterback Kent Myers scrambled on each third down rushing for a combined 50 yards on the two plays.
Seven penalties and a pair of turnovers hampered A-State early as the Aggies took advantage of great field position for a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. Utah State opened the game at their own 23-yard line and the Red Wolves forced a three-and-out, but three of the Aggies remaining four possessions in the quarter started inside A-State territory. Utah State had scoring drives of nine and 25 yards, respectively, in addition to a 38-yard field goal to grab the early advantage.
After a 69-yard scoring drive that gave the Aggies a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter, A-State's defense held Utah State to 25 yards offensively. The Red Wolves were hampered by five penalties in the second quarter and faced a 24-0 halftime deficit.