Tigers outlast Red Wolves in 105-point shootout
Memphis escapes from Jonesboro with 55- 50 win over Arkansas State
firstname.lastname@example.org JONESBORO — Arkansas State scored more points in Saturday night’s football game against Memphis than in any of its previous 59 meetings with the Tigers.
The Red Wolves needed a few more.
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Photo courtesy of ASU TIGERS/RED WOLVES (cont.)
ASU trailed by as many as 19 points while giving up six touchdown plays of 40 or more yards, yet the Red Wolves stayed in the game to the final snap. James Blackman’s 56-yard pass fell incomplete on the last play as Memphis finally sealed a 55-50 victory.
The teams combined for 1,361 yards in the highestscoring game of their series. While the Red Wolves (1-1) never led, the Tigers (2-0) never had complete control until Blackman’s final pass attempt was knocked to the turf at the front of the end zone.
“Really, really proud of our players. We had every opportunity to, I don’t like the word quit, but they had every opportunity to maybe get out of the game a little bit and they kept fighting and fighting,” ASU head coach Butch Jones said.
“We talked all week long about it being a four-quarter game and playing through four quarters, and we had an opportunity to win the game at the end.”
Memphis averaged 9.7 yards per play while rolling up 680 total yards. The Tigers snapped the ball from midfield or beyond on five of their eight touchdowns,
70 or more yards.
Running back Brandon Thomas, a redshirt freshman from North Little Rock, had touchdown runs of 70 and 75 yards while leading the Tigers with 191 yards on 18 carries.
Freshman quarterback Seth Henigan completed 22-of-33 passes for 417 yards and five touchdowns.
Memphis’ Calvin Austin III had touchdown receptions of 55, 50 and 75 yards while catching six passes for 239 yards. Tiger tight end Sean Dykes caught nine passes for 143 yards.
“Our tackling, our fundamentals, our discipline to execute on defense was not there,” Jones said. “Too many big explosion plays, and that’s a really good football team that we played, but the big plays are unacceptable, the missed tackles are unacceptable. We’ll get to work on that, but I thought our players competed for 60 minutes, had an opportunity to win the game at the end and came up a little bit short.”
ASU’s quarterback competition
Blackman, the Red Wolves’ first-game starter, replaced starter Layne Hatcher in a reversal from the Central Arkansas game. Hatcher was 23-of-38 passing for 276 yards and a touchdown in two-plus quarters Saturday, also running for a touchdown. The Red Wolves trailed 41-23 when Jones switched to Blackman with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
“I thought our team needed a spark. Layne did some good things, but I just thought we needed a spark and I’ve said it, we’re very fortunate and blessed to have two individuals in our football program like Layne Hatcher and James Blackman,” Jones said.
“They’re both good football players and even better people, and great competitors. It was just a gut feel. I thought we needed a little change in momentum and obviously James was able to do that.”
Blackman rallied the Red Wolves while completing 19-of-28 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns. He led ASU to the end zone within four plays of entering the game, completing a 46-yard pass to Jeff Foreman on his first attempt and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Corey Rucker on his second.
“He made so many plays on the field that it opened up more outside runs and throws for us,” Foreman said of Blackman.
Blackman said he rushed through reads and missed open receivers in the opener against UCA, when he was 16-of-26 for 169 yards. “Last week was my first