JONESBORO, Ark. (9/22/18) – Quarterback Justice Hansen passed for three touchdowns and the Arkansas State football team forced four turnovers in a 27-20 victory over UNLV on a rainy Saturday at Allison Field inside Centennial Bank Stadium.
With the win, A-State (3-1) improves to 3-1 or better through four games for the first time since 2008 and second time since joining the FBS in 1992. The victory secures a regular-season winning record against non-conference opponents for the first time since 1995 (3-2). The win also gives the Red Wolves back-to-back non-conference wins against FBS opponents for the first time since moving to FBS status in 1992.
“Obviously real excited that we found a way to get it done,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “I think UNLV has got a good team and their coach has done a phenomenal job with them. UNLV can run the ball as good as anybody, but we made plays in all three phases when we had to and didn’t get down when things weren’t going well. There were plenty of turns in momentum when we could have lost it, but we didn’t and we stepped back up offensively and defensively. We made big plays and we earned a win against a good football team. I’m proud of where we are at and I think we got out of it pretty healthy and I think we are fortunate there.”
Hansen finished 19-of-27 passing for 199 yards with the three touchdown passes going to three different receivers. Marcel Murray used eight carries to rack up 95 yards for an A-State offense that rushed for 197 yards. The Red Wolves out-gained UNLV 396-333 on the night with UNLV (2-2) getting 310 of those yards via the rushing attack.
Jerry Jacobs had two interceptions, both inside the 10-yard line, with B.J. Edmonds snagging the third pick for A-State and the Red Wolves also collected two fumble recoveries. Justin Clifton tied his career high with a game-high 12 tackles, including one of the Red Wolves’ seven tackles for loss.
Hansen was 3-of-4 passing on the opening drive and connected with Justin McInnis for a 16-yard touchdown pass. The point after was no good following a bobbled snap, but the Red Wolves held the 6-0 advantage.
Jacobs grabbed his first interception to end a potential scoring drive for the Rebels as he stepped in front of a UNLV pass at the nine-yard line. UNLV forced the Red Wolves off the field after the turnover and grabbed a 7-6 lead with a 41-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive.
Jacobs again kept the Rebels from scoring as he picked off a pass at the two-yard line to end the drive. Following the turnover, A-State marched down the field with an 11-play, 92-yard drive capped off with a 24-yard catch by Jonathan Adams Jr.
A-State took a 13-7 lead to the half and increased the lead to 19-7 early in the third quarter. UNLV signaled for a fair catch on a Cody Grace 40-yard punt, but the punt was muffed and recovered at the two-yard line by the Red Wolves. Hansen connected on his third touchdown pass with the two-yard pass to Javonis Isaac in the back of the end zone.
The Rebels scored twice in a span of four minutes to lead 20-19 at the end of the third quarter. Murray helped A-State regain the lead as he took two handoffs for 49 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown scamper. Leading 25-20, A-State elected to go for two and went with the hot hand as Murray plunged into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 27-20 lead with 13:12 to play.
The A-State defense logged its third interception of the night to help seal the result. Edmonds snagged the pick and A-State took over with 5:45 to play. The Red Wolves were able to run 3:53 off the clock before a missed field goal gave the ball back to the Rebels with 1:52 to play. After UNLV earned a first down, the Red Wolves forced a fumble on fourth down to seal the win.
A-State begins conference play on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Georgia Southern. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (CT) from Statesboro, Ga., with the game available on ESPN+. The Red Wolves return to Jonesboro to host Appalachian State on Tuesday, Oct. 9 with kickoff at 7:00 p.m. (CT) on ESPN2.