LAFAYETTE, La. (10/27/18) – The Arkansas State football team came up short in a 47-43 shootout against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday at Cajun Field.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (4-4, 2-2 SBC) scored four touchdowns of 50 or more yards while A-State (4-4, 1-3 SBC) had five rushing touchdowns. A-State finished with 478 yards of total offense while the hosts had 547 yards of total offense.
A-State quarterback Justice Hansen was 17-of-30 passing for 270 yards with a touchdown and interception while rushing 16 times for 53 yards and a score. Marcel Murray had a career high 19 carries for a career best 121 yards and three scores while Omar Bayless had a team high six catches for 75 yards. Kirk Merrit had four receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. Ronheen Bingham had a game-high 13 tackles to lead the A-State defense that logged two interceptions and four tackles for loss.
“We didn’t do enough to win tonight and you give credit to them because they did,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “It was two good football teams going at it tonight and we felt it would come down to the last drive. We had a couple things go our way, but we had a couple of rough ones go against us too that made it tough. We had opportunities to score more than we did, but we had a chance to stop them and put it into overtime, so we missed some opportunities on both sides. They made the plays, we didn’t.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns opened the scoring on their opening drive as a screen play to the right side resulted in a 64-yard touchdown. A-State answered on their first drive with Wand scoring the 1-yard touchdown to cap the nine play, 75-yard drive. Hansen was 4-for-4 on the drive covering 57 yards, including a fourth-down conversion to Lafayette native Javonis Isaac.
A-State gained the first turnover of the game by way of a Brandon Byner interception. The Red Wolves were unable to get points off the turnover and the Ragin’ Cajuns capitalized with a quick two play, 89-yard drive that featured a 65-yard rushing touchdown. The Red Wolves answered once again with Murray powering the seven play, 75-yard drive. Murray logged 29 rushing yards on the drive, including the seven yard score to tie the game.
The Ragin’ Cajuns used a 72-yard rushing touchdown on the first play after the Murray touchdown to regain the lead 21-14 with seconds to play in the first quarter. After forcing an A-State punt, the Ragin’ Cajuns made it 28-14 with a 12 play, 78-yard scoring drive, the fourth touchdown in five drives for the hosts.
A-State responded with a 10 play, 77-yard drive to cut the deficit to 28-21 with 4:34 left in the first half. Hansen completed three passes on the drive, but used his legs to plunge into the end zone for the two-yard score. The Ragin’ Cajuns connected on a 52-yard field goal to close the first half with a 31-21 advantage.
A 47-yard field goal increased the Ragin’ Cajuns 34-21 advantage to 34-21 with 8:02 to play in the third quarter. Murray helped A-State respond once again as he rumbled into the end zone for his second score on the night to get A-State within six at 34-28 with 3:56 left in the third quarter.
Jerry Jacobs leapt high and intercepted a Ragin’ Cajuns pass at the A-State 27-yard line giving the Red Wolves a chance to take their first lead of the night. It took just one play for A-State to do so as Hansen found Kirk Merritt over the middle for a 73-yard touchdown pass and catch giving the Red Wolves a 35-34 lead with 10:51 to play.
The Ragin’ Cajuns regained the lead by way of a 53-yard touchdown pass, giving the hosts a 40-35 advantage. A-State denied the two-point conversion as William Bradley-King batted down a pass. The Red Wolves responded as Murray rumbled into the end zone again for his third score of night and a two-point conversion gave A-State a 43-40 lead with 5:40 to play. Murray reached the 100 yards rushing plateau on the drive as he rumbled in for the score from seven yards out.
The fourth lead change of the fourth quarter saw the Ragin’ Cajuns lead 47-43 with 1:18 remaining. The Ragin’ Cajuns saw 4:30 come off the clock on the 11 play, 55-yard scoring drive. A-State was unable to get a first down on the ensuing drive and the Ragin’ Cajuns held on for the 47-43 victory.
A-State returns to Centennial Bank Stadium on Saturday, November 3 for homecoming against South Alabama. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. on ESPN+.