Arkansas State Defeats Ball State 23-20, Sun Belt Goes 2-0 In Bowl Games
Arkansas State claims their second consecutive GoDaddy Bowl win in dramatic fashion as the Sun Belt Conference won both of their bowl games this post-season.
Arkansas State led 16-13 before Ball State scored a touchdown with 1:33 left in the game to take a 20-16 lead over the Red Wolves. R.J. Fleming returned the ensuing kickoff to the Red Wolves’ 41 yard line. On the third play of the drive, Fredi Knighten found J.D. McKissic for a 26-yard strike to the Ball State 19 yard line. Then two plays later Knighten found Allen Muse open in the end zone for a 13 yard touchdown to give Arkansas State a 23-20 lead.
Ball State started on their own 36 yard line with all three of their time outs. They got to the Red Wolves’ 46 yard line with six seconds left in the game. Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning connected with Willie Snead for a 10 yard gain to the ASU 36 yard line with two seconds left in the game. However the Red Wolves would be penalized for a late hit out of bounds to move the Cardinals 15 yards closer to the ASU 21 yard line.
Ball State then sent on their field goal kicker, Scot Secor, to attempt a game-tying 38 yard field goal, but the Arkansas State’s Ryan Carrethers sped around the corner and blocked the kick to preserve the win for Arkansas State.
“I just want to say that it takes special, special young men to do what they have done,” Arkansas State interim head coach John Thompson said after the game. “And to do what they did tonight, that was an example of the kind of people they are. They’re fighters, and they overcame, and they’re people that I’ve got great respect for.”
Arkansas State has hired their third coach in the last three seasons as each of the previous head coaches have spent one season with ASU and was offered higher-profile positions. Hugh Freeze spent one season there before becoming the head coach at Ole Miss. Gus Malzahn was there last season before accepting the head coaching position at Auburn. Bryan Harsin was named the head coach at Boise State University on December 13th.
Blake Anderson was named the new head coach on December 19, he was the offensive coordinator for Larry Fedora at North Carolina and Southern Miss before that. His contract is for five years for $700,000 per with a $3 million buyout for the first two years.
Louisiana-Lafayette defeated Tulane 24-21 in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 21 in the Sun Belt’s only other bowl appearance this bowl season.