JONESBORO, Ark. (A-STATE) – Quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdown passes for the second consecutive home game and the Arkansas State football team downed Coastal Carolina 51-17 on homecoming Saturday night at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Hansen, who tied the school record for passing touchdowns, finished 24-of-37 passing for 286 yards and five touchdowns. Blake Mack was the leading receiver with six receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns while three other targets had the three remaining touchdown receptions. Hansen finished with 354 yards of total offense as he was the leading rusher with nine attempts covering 68 yards.
Kyle Wilson led the Red Wolves (3-2, 2-0 SBC) defensively with nine tackles while B.J. Edmonds registered five stops. A-State finished with seven tackles for loss, including three sacks.
“We had a lot of positive things tonight,” said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. “With this particular team, this group of guys and the inexperience, I think any win is a good win. I think we cleared up some things, on both sides of the ball tonight. Our coverage was much better and I thought we were much more physical and had more bodies behind the ball. Defensively, we gave up yards at times, but I thought we did a great job of rallying around guys. Griffin Riggs made a great play down here and Blaise Taylor had another great play, but it was more of a bend don’t break type of night. They did a really good job all night of putting us in a bind and I thought their wide outs just made great catches. We had guys hanging on and they continued to fight and hang on even though we made it hard on them. I am pleased with the win, and I still think there is a lot of room for improvement, but the practices continue to get better and better.”
The Chanticleers (1-5, 0-3 SBC) first play from scrimmage went for 55 yards putting the visitors inside the A-State red zone, but the Red Wolves held to keep the game scoreless. Coastal Carolina missed a 25-yard field goal and A-State marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead. Hansen completed 5-of-6 pass attempts on the 12 play, 80 yard scoring drive capped by a 12 yard pass and catch to Chris Murray.
Coastal Carolina knotted the score at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter, but the Red Wolves ended the half with a 17-7 advantage. A-State covered 66 yards on a nine play scoring drive with Hansen finding Mack for a 10-yard touchdown reception. A-State used the final three minutes of the half to add the final three points, with Sawyer Williams splitting the uprights from 17 yards.
It took less than two minutes on the opening drive of the second half for A-State to add to the lead. Hansen was a perfect 4-for-4 on the drive with Dijon Paschal hauling in his first touchdown catch of the season to make it 24-7. A 50-yard punt return by Blaise Taylor set up A-State with excellent field position for the second drive of the half. A-State settled for a 22-yard field goal by Williams to make the lead 27-7 midway through the third quarter.
Hansen added his fourth touchdown pass late in the third quarter as the Red Wolves gained a commanding 34-7 lead. Kendrick Edwards was the beneficiary of the fourth touchdown pass as he pulled in the four-yard catch to complete a nine play, 68 yard scoring drive.
Following a touchdown by the Chanticleers, A-State responded with Hansen throwing his fifth touchdown pass on the night. Hansen was 4-for-4 passing on the drive, with Mack hauling in three of those four catches, including a 23-yard touchdown catch, making the score 41-14 in the fourth quarter. Both teams added field goals to make it 44-17 and the Red Wolves capped off the night with a Darreon Jackson 28-yard scoop and score.
A-State faces a quick turnaround as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns visit Centennial Bank Stadium for a nationally televised contest Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.