It was less thatn a half of football before the Arkansas State Red Wolves and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs turned this year's New Orleans Bowl into a record setting performance.
The previous record for penalties in a full, four-quarter New Orleans Bowl was 15 - these two teams committed their 16th penalty with a minute left to play in the first hafl. Not the record you want to be setting, but it was indicative of the tone of the game.
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, as quarterback Jeff Driskel hit on a 53-yard pass to Carlos Henderson, which later was followed by a sweet nine-yard fade route to the corner of the end zone which Kenneth Dixon hauled in.
Arkansas State managed 92 yards of offense on their opening drive, but also racked up 50 yards of penalties. After five consecutive plays with a flag, the Wolves faced a third and goal from just inside their forty-yard line, and were lucky to turn it into a field goal.
The teams gradualy settled in, and La Tech started hitting hard on defense. Several penalties for late shoves out of bounds probably didn't help, but the Red Wolves were never able to hit any really big plays downfield.
Driskel would hit two more long passes to bring his tally to 12-of-18 for 249 yards and two touchdowns at the half, though the near-miss on the last play of the first half when Paul Turner nearly housed a screen pass will be worth watching.
Arkansas State put together a pair of long drives, eventually running nearly twice as many plays as Tech in the first half. The two teams got there in different ways, but a dead heat at 17-17 was where things stood at halftime.
And that was the end of the equality. La Tech continued to hit big plays throughout the second half, as Kenneth Dixon and Boston Scott combined to run the ball 25 times for 208 yards, while Driskel threw for 458 yards and three touchdowns. Louisiana Tech finished the game with four plays of 50 + yards, while Arkansas State managed only one play of 20 or more yards.
The Bulldogs finished off the Red Wolves with continuous pressure, and Arkansas State could never get any momentum on offense, as their only second half touchdown came on a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown by Blaise Taylor.
An impressive final game for Dixon, who finished with 215 all purpose yards and four touchdowns, giving him 87 for his career. That is now the current record for career combined rushing and receiving touchdowns, pending Keenan Reynolds' performance in the Military Bowl for Navy on December 28th.
The Red Wolves managed a tidy 177 yards rushing on the night, but a forgettable 14-for-27 passing performance by Knighten for only 137 yards meant that nothing ever really materialized for the Wolves as they watched a win slip away to a Bulldog squad that piled up nearly 700 yards of offense on the day.
Oh, and those penalties? The new record for this bowl game is now 24 penalties, and tonight they totaled 264 penalty yards. Woof.