JONESBORO, Ark. (A-State) – The Arkansas State football team's annual Fan Appreciation Day held Saturday at Centennial Bank Stadium was highlighted by an extended full-contact scrimmage, but also included fan activities such as "License to Howl," a gear sale and an autograph session with coaches and players.
Prior to the football team starting its final scrimmage of fall camp at 10 a.m., the A-State Athletics Department spent the early morning hours distributing commemorative centennial season license plates to fans in a designated area outside the stadium. The Red Wolves also held a gear sale inside the stadium, which included game-used jerseys and was a popular stop for fans.
Following the scrimmage, which consisted of over 100 plays, the coaching staff and players met with fans down on the field to visit, take photos and sign autographs while the A-State band performed from the stands.
"I can't say enough good things about our fans, and it was exciting for our players and coaches to come out here today and receive such outstanding support from them," said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. "We want to be highly active in the community, and this was a great opportunity to continue developing those relationships. This was a fun day for everyone associated with our football program."
The scrimmage featured several big plays on both sides of the ball, including four offensive touchdowns and another by junior preseason All-Sun Belt Conference defensive end Chris Stone.
Freshman running back Brandon Byner hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass, the longest play of the day, from junior quarterback Fredi Knighten to start the scoring. Freshman running back Tank Hollingsworth scored on runs covering 10 and 18 yards as well, while redshirt freshman running back Johnston White added a two-yard rushing touchdown as well.
Unofficially, the Red Wolves' rushing attack was led by White with 74 yards to his credit, but 10 players combined to record 250 yards in the scrimmage that allowed a large number of players as many reps as possible. Knighten threw for a team-high 169 yards on 14 completions. The quarterbacks that saw action, including Knighten, Cameron Birse, Stephen Hogan and James Tabary, combined to complete 25 passes for 283 yards.
Eleven different players hauled in at least one reception, including tight end Darion Griswold with a team-best three for 15 yards. Junior receiver Tres Houston finished the day with a team-best 35 receiving yards.
The defensive play of the day was made by Stone, who returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Austin Copeland was responsible for a team-high eight tackles, and while the coaching staff blew the whistle before contact with the quarterbacks, Stone was credited with three sacks. The Red Wolves' defense also came up with 12 tackles for loss.
"We communicated better today," said Anderson following the scrimmage. "There were some substitution issues because we weren't on the same sideline, but I thought we had less issues of that today (than the last scrimmage). I thought offense and defense did a good job communicating and talking. Really, any problems we had today were just more from fatigue. We're to the point in camp where guys are just tired, so they weren't moving as quickly as we wanted. At the same time, there were some good pops and good plays on both sides of the ball, so I would say we moved forward today."
Arkansas State University will begin classes Monday, Aug. 18, and the Red Wolves won't return to the field for practice until Tuesday afternoon.
Season tickets for the 2014 campaign are on sale at the A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance. The ticket office can also be contacted at 870-972-2781 and tickets may be purchased online at tickets.astate.edu.