Red Wolves run over UAPB, 62-11
Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 1, 2013 16:09
The Bryan Harsin era is off and running. Literally.
In a matchup between the two time defending Sun Belt champions and the defending SWAC champions, the Red Wolves quickly flexed their muscles on the ground early and didn’t look back as they rolled over UAPB 62-11in front of 30,451 at Liberty Bank Stadium.
The anticipated matchup was over quickly as the Red Wolves (1-0) marched down the field and scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions. Most of the scoring came via the run game, as three Red Wolves set new career highs in terms of rushing yards.
Backup quarterback Fredi Knighten rushed for 101 yards, including a 79 yard run which help set up a score with 10:08 remaining in the second quarter. Knighten had two touchdowns on the night, both rushing. David Oku finished with 124 yards and two scores. Sirgregory Thornton finished with 112 yards and two scores and Michael Gordon finished with 102 yards, including a 91-yard rushing touchdown with 4:26 remaining in the second quarter. Overall, the Red Wolves finished with 509 yards rushing the fifth time such an Arkansas State team rushed for more than 500 yards. Knighten, Thornton and Gordon all set career highs in rushing totals.
“It was mind-blowing. Having four rushers with over 100 yards, this felt like a video game,” Knighten said.
The rushing attack overshadowed the debut of quarterback Adam Kennedy. The senior who transferred from Utah State went 9-12, throwing for 149 yards and one touchdown pass.
“It felt really good to be back out there. Coaches did a good job of getting me ready to play. I was anxious to get out there,” Kennedy said.
“I thought we looked great early. We wanted to establish the run early. The defense also was outstanding.”
From the opening kick, Arkansas State dominated, both offensively and defensively. On the first offensive possession of the season, Kennedy led the Red Wolves to a seven play, 60 yard drive culminating with a 21 yard rushing score by Knighten. After that came a 13 play, 90 yard drive spanning 4:54, which put the Red Wolves up 14-0.
From there, things would only get better for the Red Wolves. The Pack would go on an eight play, 94 yard drive, making the score 21-0, and would lead to a 34-0 halftime lead.
The Red Wolves offense not only dominated under the lights, the defense stepped up as well. The defense swarmed the ball at all times of the night, making very few mistakes throughout the course of 60 minutes.
The night couldn’t have been scripted any better for Harsin. In his first game as head coach, he nearly pitched a shutout of UAPB, though some miscues in the third quarter prevented that from happening. When all was said and done, Harsin was thrilled to have the first win under his belt.
“I was very proud of our mindset going into the game. I’ve seen teams have great warm ups and then be flat. I’ve also seen teams have a flat week and then play well. I thought our crowd was also electric. I think Order of the Pack helped.”
“I saw what I wanted to see tonight. I wanted to make sure our players were ready to play. They came out and played with great energy.”
The Red Wolves will head to the Plains next weekend to take on a familiar foe, former head Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers. Kick-off is set for 6:30 p.m., and will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.