Miracle in Mobile
The 12th man was in full effect Sunday night at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, as the rowdy, raucous, and relentless A-State crowd helped lead the Red Wolves to their 23-20 victory over the Ball State Cardinals.
The game began with a quarter of offensive sparring as the Red Wolves first drive resulted in a field goal that was ruled no good. Ball State scored the only points of the first quarter, on a nine yard Keith Wenning touchdown pass to Willie Snead with 3:07 left in the quarter. The Cardinals led the Red Wolves 7-0.
The second quarter brought the Red Wolves some much needed momentum. They compiled a five play, 20 yard drive to set up senior kicker Brian Davis, who booted a 41-yard field goal through the upright. The field goal seemed to give the Red Wolves confidence and put them at ease, allowing them to play loose and free.
Ball State padded their lead after a 13 play, 67-yard drive, which allowed kicker Scott Secor to kick a 26-yard field goal. This pushed the Cardinals’ lead to 10-3. Late in the second quarter senior running back Sirgregory Thornton punched it in the endzone for a one yard touchdown, which tied the game at 10 and gave A-State a huge momentum boost heading into halftime.
The third quarter was similar to first quarter; a plethora of three and outs and very little scoring (six points). Those six points came from Brian Davis’ leg on an 18-yard and 29-yard field goal respectively, stretching the Red Wolves lead 16-10.
The fourth quarter was wild and unpredictable. Ball State struck first driving down the field with an 11 play, 72-yard drive, concluding with a 37-yard Scott Secor field goal which trimmed A-State’s lead to 16-13.
Ball State forced an A-State three-and-out on its next possession; junior linebacker Qushan Lee intercepted Keith Wenning’s pass and returned it to the eight-yard line on Ball State’s next possession. It felt like Ball State had given A-State a gift, but as quickly as it had been given, Sophomore quarterback Fredi Knighten gave it back with an interception in the endzone. To the dismay of the Red Wolves fans, the Cardinals drove down the field (80 yards, 16 plays) after Jahwan Edwards rammed a clutch one-yard rushing touchdown down A-State’s throat with 1:33 left in the game.
With the score 20-16, Knighten led the Red Wolves down the field (5 plays, 43 yards), and the game hung in the balance. Knighten dropped back, surveyed the field, and found senior wide receiver Allen Muse for a 13-yard touchdown in the back of the endzone; ASU reclaimed the lead 23-20.
Despite the three point lead the Cardinals would not lay down. The Cardinals drove down the field (5 plays, 43 yards), and got to the A-State 21 yard line.
So it came down to one final play. As Secor lined up to take the kick to tie the game, Red Wolves fans hoped for a miracle. A miracle was just what they got. It seemed four or five A-State defenders were able to climb over line as senior Ryan Carruthers knocked down the kick ending the game. What followed was a frenzy as players, coaches, and fans rushed the field to celebrate a second consecutive GoDaddy.com Bowl win.
Knighten took the reins of the offense after senior quarterback Adam Kennedy was injured early in the second quarter. Knighten had a good game, completing 15 of his 20 passes, amassing 115 yards, one touchdown, and one interception; he was named the MVP of the game.
Sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic led A-State with a solid 72-yard, nine reception performance which earned him the offensive MVP award.
Lee made 15 tackles and garnered defensive MVP honors. Senior wide receiver Julian Jones stated “What a ride, it’s been a great year for us; that was the plan to win another championship,” he said with a smile. “Think about it what team do you know that can three-peat with four different coaches?”
The Red Wolves have done it again, and they hope to do it again next season under new head coach Blake Anderson.
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