ASU edges S. Alabama 17-16
MOBILE, Ala. - Sirgregory Thornton's 3-yard touchdown with 6:29 remaining in the fourth quarter propelled Arkansas State to a 17-16 victory over South Alabama in a Sun Belt Conference matchup Saturday night at Ladd Peebles Stadium.
The touchdown run capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive for the Red Wolves (4-4, 2-1 SBC), and the defense forced South Alabama (3-5, 1-3 SBC) to punt on the following possession after Darrius Rosser sacked Ross Metheny on third down.
A-State failed to score on the next possession and punted the ball to the Jaguars with 3:17 left to play. USA completed a 20-yard pass play to move the ball to its own 34 yard line, but the A-State defense held as Ross Metheny's pass attempt to Jereme Jones fell incomplete on fourth-and-5 and the Red Wolves ran out the final 1:53 for the victory.
The Red Wolves trailed 13-10 with 14:12 left to go in the game after Brian Davis hit a career-long 50 yard field goal to cap an 11-play, 38 yard drive. The Red Wolves kept the drive alive after Adam Kennedy hit Allen Muse on fourth-and-6 at the Jaguars 27 yard line, but South Alabama pushed the lead back to six when Aleem Sunanon converted a 30-yard field goal to push the lead to 16-10 lead with 9:58 to play.
South Alabama started the second half with much of the same success it experienced in the first half, but the Red Wolves defense came up big. After a 42-yard completion to place the ball at the A-State 18-yard line, Sterling Young intercepted Metheny's pass in the end zone and the Red Wolves' offense did not waste the opportunity.
Kennedy led A-State on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown by Kennedy. The Brian Davis extra point gave the Red Wolves a 7-6 lead with 8:12 to go in the third quarter.
The Red Wolves found success via the run game on the drive, collecting 57 of the 80 yards via the ground on the scoring drive. Kennedy picked up 36 of the rushing yards, with all of his gains coming on quarterback draws, including the 12-yard touchdown scamper.
The lead would be short-lived as South Alabama responded with a scoring drive of its own. The Jaguars needed just eight plays to go 65 yards and regained the lead on a 2-yard touchdown run from Kndall Houston to go up 13-7 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter.
South Alabama got on the board when it capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 27 yard field goal from Sunanon with 10:55 to go in the second quarter to go up 3-0.
The Jaguars added to their lead later in the quarter when Sunanon converted on a 19 yard field goal with 1:34 to go in the half to push the advantage to 6-0. The kick was setup by a 47 yard pitch and catch from Ross Metheny to Danny Woodson that placed the ball on the A-State two yard line, but the Red Wolves denied the Jaguars from putting it in the end zone. South Alabama attempted to score on back-to-back run plays and then attempted a pass over the top of the Red Wolves' defense, but it fell incomplete, and USA settled for the field goal.
Kennedy finished the night with 65 yards rushing and one touchdown on 16 attempts while also adding 136 yards on 15-of-17 passing. Muse hauled in seven receptions on 58 yards passing, and Thornton had 15 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Qushaun Lee recorded a career-high 16 tackles to lead the A-State defense, while Rosser finished with a sack in his first career start. Young's interception was his first of the season and the fourth of his career.
The Red Wolves will return to action Saturday, Nov. 9 for a road matchup with Louisiana-Monroe. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.