MONROE, La. — In an offensive shootout between Arkansas State and ULM, the Red Wolves erased a 21-3 deficit in the second quarter to claim a 48-41 victory Saturday evening at Malone Stadium.
A-State (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) outgained the Warhawks (3-5, 2-2 SBC) 514-448, as the Red Wolves produced 307 yards in the air and 207 on the ground.
The Warhawks took a 7-0 advantage on its opening drive after a 67-yard rushing touchdown by Jared Porter capped off a three-play 75-yard drive. ULM stretched its lead to two scores after it recovered an A-State fumbled punt return on its own six-yard line, leading to a six-yard touchdown run by the Warhawks to make the score 14-0.
Sophomore kicker Blake Grupe put up the first points for Arkansas State when he made a 43-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in the first quarter, cutting ULM’s lead to 14-3. However, the Warhawks struck again early in the second quarter on a 34-yard pass from Caleb Evans to Markis McCray to put them ahead 21-3 with 14:18 left in the second quarter.
The Red Wolves responded with 28 unanswered points over the next 13 minutes to go ahead 31-21 with 1:21 left before halftime. A-State began its march back from 18 points down with a 57-yard rushing touchdown, its longest running play of the year, by sophomore running back Marcel Murray. Senior wideout Omar Bayless broke the Sun Belt Conference single-season receiving touchdowns record with 7:28 remaining in the second quarter, hauling in a 46-yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher to pull the Red Wolves within 21-17.
The Red Wolves gained even more momentum on the ensuing kickoff as freshman Jeff Foreman recovered a fumble at the ULM 35-yard line. Murray found the end zone on the very next play to give the Red Wolves their first lead at 24-21 with 7:09 left in the half. Senior wideout Kirk Merritt would account for the last A-State touchdown during its 28-0 surge, posting a 23-yard score to give the Red Wolves a two-possession advantage at 31-21 just before halftime.
The Warhawks would strike last though, capping a nine-play, 65-yard drive that consumed just 1:24 with a 16-yard touchdown run by Evans. The touchdown came with just three seconds remaining on the clock, making the halftime score 31-28 in favor of the Red Wolves.
The second half began with a 12-play, 61-yard drive by A-State that ended with Grupe connecting on his second field goal of the day – a 31-yard attempt. The drive was extended thanks to a fake punt run by Cody Grace in A-State territory. Although, the Red Wolves drive stalled, the fake punt allowed A-State the opportunity to open the half with a score.
ULM’s first possession of the second half ended with a punt, but it bounced back with a touchdown after posting an interception on A-State’s next drive. Evans accounted for his third rushing touchdown, a 23-yard run, to tie the score at 34-34 with 4:20 left in the third quarter. The Warhawks extra point attempt bounced off the left upright to keep the score 34-34.
Hatcher then led the Red Wolves on a 6-play, 36-yard drive which ended in a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Murray as the Red Wolves took a 41-34 lead over the Warhawks. The Red Wolves extended Its lead 48-34 after a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Jamal Jones.
After Its bye week, Arkansas State will return home, for a two-game home stint when it hosts Coastal Carolina on Nov. 16. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. at Centennial Bank Stadium with the game airing on ESPN+, while live stats can be viewed at AStateStats.com.