Mark Taylor, Assistant Director for Media Relations
JONESBORO – The Arkansas State football team was upended by Appalachian State 35-9 Tuesday night at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Appalachian State (4-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) racked up 390 total yards behind 246 yards on the ground while forcing three A-State (3-3, 0-2 Sun Belt) turnovers and limiting the Red Wolves to 3-of-17 on third down. Thirteen of the Red Wolves’ 16 drives consisted of five or fewer plays, but the Red Wolves amassed 336 yards of offense with 219 yards coming in the aerial attack.
“I am obviously disappointed in how we played and it is real simple; we are not playing good football right now and that falls on me,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “We have to find some consistency and balance, and we have not played well this season yet. Offensively, we move the ball, but we can’t finish while defensively we’ve got to make them kick field goals and create some turnovers. Those things aren’t happening consistently in any of those phases.”
Justice Hansen was 25-of-40 passing for 209 yards while Marcel Murry led A-State’s rushing attack with 11 carries for 37 yards. Hansen connected with nine different receivers with Kirk Merritt leading the way catching nine passes for 73 yards. Defensively, Tajheha Chambers led the Red Wolves with 10 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
Blake Grupe connected on three field goals in the first half, the first two staking the Red Wolves to a 6-0 lead. His second field goal was a career long 47-yard boot. Appalachian State grabbed a 7-6 advantage on a 26-yard touchdown scamper, but Grupe put his third FG attempt through the uprights as A-State regained the lead at 9-7 with 4:37 to play in the half. The Mountaineers answered with a four-play, 74-yard drive to lead 14-7 with 2:57 to go in the half.
Appalachian State picked off two passes in the last four minutes of the half, the first of which set up the Mountaineers inside the A-State five yard line. Appalachian State expanded the advantage to 21-9 with a one-yard touchdown scamper and the second pick ended the Red Wolves chances of a score before the halftime break.
A-State held the Mountaineers off the scoreboard on the first possession of the second half, but Appalachian State’s defense continued its strong play in limiting the Red Wolves. The Mountaineers increased their advantage with a five-play, 86 yard scoring drive to lead A-State 28-9 heading to the fourth quarter. A 62-yard quarterback keeper capped the scoring for Appalachian State and the Mountaineers sealed the 35-9 defeat for A-State.
“It’s just time for us to dig deep and find out what we can do to put the guys in a position to be successful,” said Anderson. “I have to look and see what I am doing offensively and what we are trying to run and we have to find out what we can pass. I don’t care if I have to revamp the whole thing, and it doesn’t matter what groups in the past have done, I’ve got to find out what this group can do and find some confidence.”
A-State hosts Georgia State on Thursday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised contest on ESPNU.