DALLAS, Texas (9/23/17) – Arkansas State racked up over 400 yards of total offense, but it was not enough as Southern Methodist University defeated the Red Wolves 44-21 Saturday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
“We couldn’t get anything going throughout the night,” A-State head coach Blake Anderson said. “We couldn’t tackle well and struggled getting them off the field, while offensively we had several miscues that hurt us. In the end SMU just played better than we did several things that were very critical to allowing them to stretch this thing out and those things have to get fixed.”
The Red Wolves held a 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Justice Hansen. The junior from Edmond, Okla., connected with Omar Bayless on a 32-yard strike to go up 7-3 early in the quarter.
The scoring play was setup on the previous play when Hansen found Bayless for a 30-yard completion as the Red Wolves marched down the field for a nine-play, 89-yard scoring drive.
SMU responded quickly with a 55-yard touchdown pass and catch, but the Red Wolves answered right back. Hansen completed all three pass attempts on a five play drive, hooking up with Blake Mack for a 19-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-10 lead. It marked the fifth consecutive game that Hansen passed for multiple touchdowns in a game.
Hansen finished the first quarter 10-of-14 for 148 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Despite the solid effort in the first quarter, SMU took advantage of a number of Arkansas State miscues and outscored the squad 20-0 in the second quarter.
On the opening drive of the second quarter, the Red Wolves held the Mustangs to a field goal attempt, but were whistled for a roughing the kicker call that allowed the drive to continue. SMU cashed in two plays on a two-yard touchdown from Courtland Sutton to take a 17-14 lead.
Later in the quarter Hansen found Mack for a 36-yard reception and Mack looked to have a path into the end zone but was tripped up in front of the goal line and fumbled the ball that resulted in an SMU recovery. The Mustangs added two more touchdowns to close out the first half with a 30-14 advantage. SMU tallied 402 yards of total offense in the first half compared to 306 for the Red Wolves.
SMU added two more touchdowns in the second half, while Warren Wand scored his second rushing touchdown of the season on a five yard in the fourth quarter to get Arkansas State with 37-21 with 12:32 to go in the game. SMU answered on the following drive, however with a seven-yard scoring run from Ben Hicks to go up 44-21 with 9:52 remaining.
Despite racking up over 400-yards of offense for the 26th time in the Anderson era, A-State surrendered 580 yards of total offense to the Mustangs. Hansen finished the night 16-of-26 for 234 yards and two scores, while Logan Bonner went 7-of-17 for 50 yards.
Mack had five receptions for 102 yards and one touchdown, while Bayless hauled in four catches for 72 yards and a score. On the ground, Wand led the way for A-State with 75 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
A-State opens Sun Belt Conference play on the road when it travels to Georgia Southern on Oct. 4 for a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN2.