Red Wolves Drop Heartbreaker at Southern Miss

Southern Miss scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter en route to edging the Arkansas State football team 20-19 Saturday night at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
The Red Wolves (2-5, 1-3 SBC) owned a 19-7 lead entering the final 15 minutes, but a pair of rushing touchdowns by the Golden Eagles (3-3, 1-1) proved to be the difference. A-State had the ball with just over two minutes remaining, but a deep pass on fourth down by James Blackman was batted down to result in a turnover on downs.
Blackman completed 25 of 34 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns – both to Jeff Foreman, who hauled in three catches for 50 yards. Eleven different players caught at least one pass for A-State, with Seydou Traore leading the way with five grabs for 50 yards.
Southern Miss outgained the Red Wolves 345-286, passing for 177 yards and rushing for 168 behind a game-high 96 yards from Frank Gore Jr. He and Janari Dean both rushed for touchdowns in that fourth-quarter comeback.
A-State defensive backs Kenneth Harris and Eddie Smith picked off a pair of USM quarterback Zach Wilcke passes, while Kivon Bennett led in tackles with eight (1.5 for loss), a sack and a pass breakup.
A-State put together an efficient opening drive, moving 75 yards in nine plays, capped off by a 22-yard strike from Blackman to Foreman – Blackman’s sixth completion in as many attempts on the scoring drive. Neither defense budged the rest of the quarter, with the Red Wolves holding a 7-0 lead after one.
With 8:15 remaining in the first half, Dominic Zvada tacked on a 31-yard field goal to make it 10-0 and moving him to 10-of-10 on the year. Southern Miss then answered with 23-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilcke to Jason Brownlee to make it 10-7 with just over 5 minutes left in the half. The Golden Eagles later moved the ball into A-State territory with hopes to score before the half, but Smith intercepted a Wilcke pass with 11 seconds to go. The Red Wolves then ran out the clock to go into the locker room with a 10-7 halftime lead.
After A-State’s defense forced a punt to open the second half, Blackman piloted his offense on a 10-play scoring drive and hooked up with Foreman again, this time from 9 yards out to make it 17-7.
The Red Wolves’ next drive ended in Ryan Hanson punt, which was downed at the USM 8 by long snapper Jack Bullard. A-State’s defense kept pushing the Golden Eagles back and forced a punting situation, but the snap was dropped and fell out of bounds for a safety to make it 19-7 after three quarters.
Southern Miss cut it to 19-14 with 9:20 to go in the fourth when Gore rushed 30 yards to cap off a nine-play, 95-yard drive. The Golden Eagles then took advantage of a short field after a 30-yard punt return, scoring on Dean’s 3-yard rush to lead 20-19.
A-State then took over on its own 33 with 2:06 to play and advanced into USM territory, but the Golden Eagles’ defense held and forced a turnover on downs to seal the win.
Arkansas State faces another stiff road test in league play next week, traveling to face West Division rival Louisiana. Kickoff at Cajun Field is slated for 4 p.m. CT on ESPN+.

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