Red Wolves effort ends in 34-31 defeat against WKU
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 14:12
With bowl hopes in full swing, the Red Wolves suffered a heartbreaking last minute loss against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Saturday at the Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky.
Coming into this game, both Arkansas State and Western Kentucky were bowl eligible with overall records tied at 7-4.
While this game did not do much for the Hilltoppers’ conference standings, this loss means the Red Wolves are unable to take first place in the Sun Belt conference.
But A-State could tie the conference record of current Sun Belt leader, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette; South Alabama would have to win against ULL next week for this to happen.
The loss to the Ragin’ Cajuns in October would keep the Red Wolves at second in conference if that scenario played out.
“We are disappointed, we came here to win” Head Coach Brian Harsin said. “We talked about going into this game, about how this game is a game of inches. It really came down to that in the end. Every time we made a stop, somehow, some way they ended up getting more opportunities.”
Arkansas State started out the first half strong with a very unorthodox play call.
On the one-yard line redshirt senior defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers got the ball on offense for the first time in his career at A-State, rushing for a Red Wolf touchdown on an 83-yard drive.
Western Kentucky would then begin to show exactly what their offensive was capable of by scoring three consecutive touchdowns.
With eight minutes and 36 seconds left in the second quarter, Kennedy would be injured on a short run and sophomore quarterback Fredi Knighten would complete the rest of the game in place of Kennedy. “It was his left leg,” Harsin said. “I really don’t know what the extent of it is.”
Kennedy would end his night completing seven of 10 passes for 67 yards and one interception as well as six rushes for five yards.
The opening kickoff of the second half flipped the momentum of the game in the Red Wolves favor as they scooped up a fumbled Hilltopper ball on the return.
In the fourth quarter, on what would become the final drive of the game, a series of penalties aided the Hilltoppers in overcoming their four point deficit.
With under a minute left in the game, Western Kentucky was faced with a fourth and goal at the Arkansas State 21-yard line.
After Doughty threw a pass as he was approaching the sideline an Arkansas State player was charged with a hit on the quarterback out of bounds, giving the Hilltoppers a fresh set of downs as well as moving the ball up to the A-State eleven yard line.
After a second down pass attempt, sophomore defensive back Chris Humes was charged with pass interference once again giving Western Kentucky a first down and the ball at the two yard line.
The game was wrapped up when the Hilltoppers scored on a two yard pass by Doughty with ten seconds left on the clock.
The Red Wolves were unable to put together a successful drive in ten seconds and the final score would be 31 A-State, 34 Western Kentucky.
“I’m proud of every single one of them, proud of the effort they gave, I didn’t see one guy out there that didn’t have any emotion or didn’t care about what was going on,” Harsin said. “Everybody fought till the end and that’s all you can ask your guys to do.”
Knighten would end the night completing 11 of 17 passes for 61 yards and rushing 12 times for 47 yards.
While the Red Wolves conference standing does not change from second place, A-State drops to 7-5 and 5-2 in conference to end their regular season.
While conference opponent ULL has been announced for the New Orleans Bowl, all that is left to do is for A-State to patiently wait for more announcements to see if the the Red Wolves have an opportunity to add another championship under their belt.