Photo: Brandon Reid/MyFantasySportsTalk.com

 

By most accounts, this was to be the biggest game played in Jonesboro, ever. A game that was lobbied to be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A border school, an SEC team, ranked #21 in the nation, and coming to Centennial Bank Stadium. In front of 29,143 fans, the Missouri Tigers slipped past the Arkansas State Red Wolves in the second half for the 27-20 win.

The last time these two schools hooked up, it was 2013 in Columbia, and the Tigers ran away in the second half for a 41-13 victory. This time, it didn’t feel or play out the same way. The two-time, defending SEC East champion, could only cash in for three with their first drive of the game which lasted 12 plays. The Red Wolves bent, but didn’t break. They punched back all night long.

The Tigers are driving around midfield early in the second quarter when Maty Mauk throws an interception to Bo Sentimore. Sentimore returns it 45 yards to setup this SportsCenter #3 play of the night…

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An incredible one handed grab by Tres Houston to put the Red Wolves up 7-3. A few minutes later, Arkansas State added a 20 yard JD Houston field goal to go up 10-3. The two teams traded interceptions and touchdowns from there heading into the locker room. The last score of the half came with just eight seconds left as Tres Houston does it again with a diving, feet dragging play, in the back of the endzone. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but overturned via replay. The Red Wolves lead the Tigers 17-10 at the half.

Missouri came out of the locker room and cranked up the defense. Arkansas State had three unsuccessful drives that netted only 15 yards in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Maty Mauk is using his legs to gash Arkansas State between the hashes. At the end of three, the Tigers lead 24-17.

Late in the third quarter, Arkansas State quarterback Fredi Knighten would leave the game with a groin injury. The final quarter, and the huge upset win bid, would be left up to freshman QB James Tabary. The Red Wolves were able to capitalize off a Maty Mauk interception in the fourth quarter to add a 40 yard Drew White Field goal and cut the lead to 24-20.

Then enter Kentrell Brothers to make the freshman QB’s night forgettable. Brothers would intercept Tabary twice in the last ten minutes. To the freshman’s credit, the first pick was a pass delivered straight to Dijon Paschal, but ripped away by Brothers, and the second was a deflected ball that bounced up 20 feet in the air and was up for grabs.

The last interception sealed the win for Missouri after adding a field goal off the previous ASU turnover. The Missouri Tigers kneel the ball for a 27-20 final over the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson after the game…

“We played harder than they did. We just didn’t make enough plays when it counted in the third quarter, the fourth quarter, to get the win.”

One of the biggest problems the Red Wolves had on Saturday night was stopping Maty Mauk from keeping drives alive with his legs. Mauk will let you stay in a game with his turnovers, and he did, throwing two interceptions. But he also ripped away the Red Wolves chance of winning the game with his speed, getting up the middle of the field. He had ten carries for 75 yards.

ASU quarterback Fredi Knighten had another rough night, outside of the two touchdown tosses that Tres Houston made spectacular plays on. Knighten was 11-of-23 for 97 yards. He also tallied eleven rushes for negative eight yards. The Red Wolves did a good job balancing out the rushing attack. They were led by Michael Gordon who had 67 yards on 17 carries. JD McKissic also added a nice days work with eight catches for 82 yards.

Missouri moves to 2-0 with the win and will play UCONN in Columbia this coming Saturday. The Red Wolves drop to 0-2 after the loss and host Missouri State Saturday night.

My final take…85% of the nation would be 0-2 after playing USC and Missouri the first two weeks of the season. Missouri has won the SEC East the past two years. USC is loaded with offensive firepower and may very well be in this years College Football Playoff. Arkansas State punched back until the very end. Both teams committed three turnovers. In my opinion, the one thing that prevented the Red Wolves from stealing this upset win, was the inability to collapse the middle of the field and keep Maty Mauk from running through it.

Two things I know for certain, most teams would be 0-2 after playing the two Top 25 teams Arkansas State just did, and the real winner was Jonesboro, Arkansas for having an amazing kick-off to a brand new year. A win, nor a loss, could erase the thrill of opening night for 29,143 fans at Centennial Bank Stadium.

 

Sights and sounds from the field…

 

 

What were your impressions of this game? Did Missouri have a bad night, or is Arkansas State a bowl team once again? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Brandon Reid covers NCAAF and the Arkansas State Red Wolves for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid

Brandon ReidAnalysisFootballNCAAFNews and UpdatesRecent PostsSECSun BeltYouTubeArkansas State,Blake Anderson,Brandon Reid,Fredi Knighten,Gary Pinkel,Kentrell Brothers,Maty Mauk,MFST,Missouri,Mizzou Tigers,Red Wolves,Tres Houston  By most accounts, this was to be the biggest game played in Jonesboro, ever. A game that was lobbied to be played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A border school, an SEC team, ranked #21 in the nation, and coming to Centennial Bank Stadium. In front of 29,143...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?