Every horror movie junkie knows that the moment the hero feels safe is the moment the hero is in the most danger. The Arkansas State Red Wolves, undefeated in conference, felt pretty safe at home playing the Sun Belt's hardest luck opponent, Georgia State.
Maybe Blake Anderson doesn't watch horror movies.
Like Jason Vorhees, the seemingly indestructible Panthers kept hacking away at the Red Wolves, racking up 491 yards of offense, 390 of it through the air. Instead of being a victim of the A-State Monster Defense, Nick Arbuckle terrorized the Red Wolves secondary with a pair of touchdowns. By halftime, it was 27-20, and the Red Wolves faithful wondered if they'd live to see the morning.
But like any good horror movie, the hero finds a weakness to exploit and vanquishes the villain. For the Red Wolves, it was finally finding a seam in the Panther's armor – the rush defense. With 117 4th quarter rushing yards, including a 60 yard TD from Warren Wand, the Red Wolves escaped with the victory on a damp Halloween night.
4th Quarter Dominators
The Red Wolves built on what is becoming a reoccurring theme for A-State: dominating 4th quarters. Two games after putting 29 unanswered on the Jaguars, the Red Wolves piled up 21 unanswered to close out the Panthers. Credit the depth. A-State continues to make plays deep in ball games when opponents are gassed.
Fredi is Struggling
Fredi Knighten threw for 224 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 82 yards and a score. And yet, in the 4th quarter, the ball was largely taken from Fredi's hands. He passed twice for a total of 14 yards while Wand and Michael Gordon toted the rock. Knighten threw two INTs against a defensive unit that hadn't exactly distinguished itself. Now Fredi gets to face one of the nation's stoutest Ds in Boone this Thursday.
The Monster D Came Alive In the Second Half
A-State entered Halloween leading the nation in INTs. But Nick Arbuckle spent the entire first half effortlessly feeding footballs to Penny Hart. The second half was a different story. Arbuckle only passed for 121 yards in the 2nd half with zero scores. It got even worse for Arbuckle in the 4th. The Red Wolves held the Panthers' QB to 22 passing yards, zero scores, sacked him twice and picked him once. Arbuckle went from terrifying to terrorized.
A Win is a Win, Right?
The Red Wolves should have beat the Panthers, and they did. The defense shut out the Panthers in the second half (special teams did give up a 100 yard kick return), and while Fredi wasn't spectacular, he refused to lose. In fact, Fredi was the Red Wolves second leading rusher. Meanwhile, J.D. McKissic gobbled up seven passes for 82 yards, adding to his legacy as the program's most productive receiver in history.
Yeah, the Red Wolves doinked another XP, and yeah, the Red Wolves had the Panthers actually believing they could steal a win in Jonesboro. But by the end of the night, the fireworks were commemorating another A-State win, and the Red Wolves are 4-0 in conference for the first time since 2011.
Thursday night versus Appalachian State should be pretty good.