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Arkansas State Pulls Away In Second Half Against ULM

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Pete Thomas and the Warhawks offense didn't put up much of a fight as they drop to 3-2, 2-1 in Sun Belt play.

USA TODAY Sports

After a turnover-filled, scoreless first half, Fredi Knighten led his Red Wolves to victory after halftime.

Defenses dominated for the first 30 minutes, with each team committing two turnovers and no big plays by either offense. The Warhawks were held to just 66 total yards of offense in the first half. Pete Thomas routinely missed on short passes and couldn't find anything deep. Centarius Donald and Tyler Cain couldn't bounce anything and get upfield in the running game.

And while the Red Wolves managed 224 yards of offense in the first, none of them were acquired in threatening scoring territory. Every time the Red Wolves managed to get into ULM territory, they either turned it over or were shut down by the Warhawks dominant front line - ULM tackle Gerrand Johnson wreaked havoc in the middle of the field all night. Arkansas State recovered a fumble deep in Warhawk territory in the first quarter but couldn't move the ball, and elected to attempt a field goal from the 10 yard line instead of going for the fourth-and-one. Luke Ferguson missed the 26-yard attempt.

Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon was finally able to break through early in the third quarter on a 68-yard run right up the gut of the ULM defense. Fredi Knighten jogged in a play after for the first score of the game.

Knighten's final statline isn't eye-popping - 21-36 for 284 yards, one TD and two picks through the air, another 71 yards on 20 carries on the ground - but he dominated the second half. After the first touchdown and another failed drive by the Warhawks, Knighten threw a beautiful 12-yard touchdown on a fade route to Tyler Trosin. The two touchdown lead was pretty much insurmountable for the Warhawks.

ULM did get on the board early in the fourth quarter when Thomas found Ajalen Holley behind the defense for a 59-yard touchdown pass, Holley's third touchdown of 58 or more yards this season.

But Knighten answered with two more rushing touchdowns to crush any hopes of a ULM comeback.

ULM QB Brayle Brown came in with about two minutes left to replace Thomas and marched the Warhawks down the field for a garbage-time touchdown, finding Kenzee Jackson for 41 yards, the first TD of the season for both. We might see Brown get some playing time next week against Kentucky if Thomas continues to average less than five yards per attempt, as he did tonight.

The Red Wolves move to 3-2 on the year and take on Georgia State next week, who just lost a heartbreaker to the Cajuns.