Sunday, January 05, 2014

Arkansas State: 2014 GoDaddy Bowl Champions


Arkansas State backup quarterback Fredi Knighten led a 59-yard game-winning drive in the final minute and a half of the GoDaddy Bowl, and the Red Wolves beat Ball State 23-20 Sunday night in Mobile, Ala.
Knighten hit receiver Allen Muse for a 13-yard touchdown with 32 seconds remaining.
Red Wolves starting quarterback Adam Kennedy, a senior transfer from Utah State, re-injured his knee just before halftime. Knighten, a sophomore, took over and went 15-for-20 for 115 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Arkansas State (8-5) won the GoDaddy Bowl for the second year in a row, while Ball State fell to 0-7 all-time in bowl games.
The Cardinals (10-3) had one last chance when senior quarterback Keith Wenning drove them down the field and got kicker Scott Secor -- who had already made 26- and 37-yard field goals -- in prime position to tie the game from 38 yards out.
The kick was blocked, securing the victory for Red Wolves interim head coach John Thompson.
"God answers prayers, and he answered prayers with this team. This is a pure blessing," Thompson said. "All the glory goes to God, I'll tell you that. We kept coming back. This was a family win."
Senior running back Jawhan Edwards (28 carries, 146 yards) gave Ball State the lead when he dived into the end zone from a yard out with under two minutes remaining to cap an 80-yard, 16-play drive that took nearly seven minutes.
The march was made possible after Ball State cornerback Eric Patterson intercepted Knighten on third-and-goal with seven minutes to play and Arkansas State leading 16-13.
Knighten redeemed himself with the game-winning drive.
"Fredi's a winner," Thompson said of Knighten, who also led the team in rushing with 19 carries for 97 yards. "He stuck in there when things went against us."
Arkansas State linebacker Qushaun Lee, last year's MVP of the Red Wolves' bowl win against Kent State, picked off Wenning with just under 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, again shutting down one of Football Bowl Subdivision's most prolific offenses that averaged 40.1 points a game coming in.
Wenning finished 23 of 44 for 215 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It was the worst passing performance of the year for the senior, who came in No. 5 in the nation with 3,933 passing yards.
Junior wideout Willie Snead led the Cardinals with nine catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Arkansas State wide receiver J.D. McKissic had 10 catches for 82 yards.
The Red Wolves opened the second half with two straight marches down the field, but they came up short in the Cardinals' red zone both times, settling for field goals of 18 and 29 yards by kicker Brian Davis that put them ahead 16-10.
Arkansas State was the only team to score in the third quarter after its defense twice stopped Ball State on fourth-down attempts.
Secor's 37-yard field goal with 12:58 remaining in the game pulled the Cardinals within 16-13, the last scoring before the final two minutes.
Thompson, the Red Wolves' defensive coordinator, led the Red Wolves to a bowl win for the second year in a row.
Last month, Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin left to take the same position at Boise State. In December 2012, Gus Malzahn bolted the Red Wolves to take over at Auburn.