Something to howl about
Red Wolves bash Golden Lions behind Hansen’s 5 TD passes.
JONESBORO — Arkansas State University earned its first victory of the season after another milestone effort by redshirt junior quarterback Justice Hansen, who passed for a career-high five touchdown passes in a 48-3 victory over the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on Saturday night.
ASU (1-1) had little trouble handling its in-state opponent, leading 20-3 at halftime, and the Red Wolves earned their first nonconference victory in the regular season since defeating Missouri State 70-7 in 2015.
Hansen was 24-of-31 passing for 336 yards before an announced crowd of 24,371 at Centennial Bank Stadium, with touchdown passes going to five different receivers.
Hansen, who has thrown for 751 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2 games, tied the ASU single-game record for touchdown passes set by Fredi Knighten in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl.
ASU led 41-7 after three quarters, and Hansen left the game.
The Red Wolves got a sixth touchdown pass, a 9-yard completion from redshirt freshman Logan Bonner to Christian Booker with 11:41 to play, to complete the scoring. It was Booker’s second touchdown reception of the night.
Anderson complimented Hansen’s performance but also pointed out that he missed some passes, including when he overthrew junior receiver Kendrick Edwards, who was wide open in the
end zone during the second quarter
“We’re going to strive for perfection and it really wasn’t,” Anderson said of Hansen, who set a school record with 46 completions in ASU’s season-opening loss to Nebraska. “He’s playing really well. … He could have thrown 6 or 7 or 8 touchdowns.”
ASU’s victory, which comes a week after Miami cancelled its game with ASU due to Hurricane Irma, was the Red Wolves’ first in a home opener since they defeated Montana State 37-10 in 2014.
UAPB (1-2) has never beaten an FBS-level opponent — a feat that no team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference has accomplished since Grambling State’s 23-6 victory over Oregon State in 1985.
The Golden Lions kept the game close for a majority of the first half with offensive drives that were both clock-consuming and fruitless.
ASU led 13-0 after one quarter and 20-3 at halftime, but the Golden Lions held a five-minute edge in time of possession.
UAPB seemed to catch the ASU defense by surprise from the very first play, which was a 32-yard read option pass from redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Duncan to wide open redshirt freshman receiver Tyrin Ralph.
ASU’s defense yielded 154 yards to UAPB during the first half — just below the 198-yard total the Red Wolves gave up in the schools’ last meeting in 2013, a 62-11 ASU victory.
The Red Wolves gave up 280 yards to UAPB after giving up 463 total yards in a 4336 loss to Nebraska.
“It definitely showed us that we needed to actually get our heads on and know we had a little competition out there,” said senior linebacker Kyle Wilson, who had a sack and an interception.
UAPB could not capitalize on early opportunities.
The Golden Lions drove to the ASU 17 on their first drive before Duncan threw an interception to ASU senior cornerback Blaise Taylor.
ASU was called for a kick-catch interference on a first-quarter punt that set up UAPB at the ASU 32, but the Golden Lions missed a 41yard field goal attempt.
Later, UAPB drove to the ASU 13, but Duncan threw three consecutive incomplete passes to set up a 30-yard field goal, which were UAPB’s only points of the first half and the game.
By then, ASU held a 13-3 lead as Hansen went 9 of 10 for 113 yards and 3 touchdown passes during the first three drives, which started at the Red Wolves’ 7, 4 and 25.
The first touchdown, a 38yard catch and run by Booker, came after Taylor’s interception
at the ASU 7 — the Red Wolves’ first forced turnover of the season.
The Red Wolves scored touchdowns on three out of their five drives during the first half, but were kept out of the end zone on fourth and goal at the UAPB 1 when Hansen recovered a fumbled snap for a loss.
Four of ASU’s touchdowns were on gains of more than 20 yards, including a 73-yard pass from Hansen to 6-6, 210-pound junior receiver Justin McInnis that broke the game open, 27-3, on the second play of the second half.
ASU rushed more often (37 rushes) than it did against Nebraska (21 rushes), and the running backs totaled over 100 rushing yards.
Junior Warren Wand led the team with 62 yards on nine carries, which included a 12-yard touchdown run for ASU’s only score of the second quarter.
Senior Johnston White had 10 rushes for 37 yards after missing the Nebraska game with a deep thigh bruise, and senior running back Armond Weh-Weh recorded a 12-yard run after recovering from an ACL tear from last season and the ankle injury he sustained during spring practice.
UAPB will start SWAC play at home against Jackson State next week, and ASU will play at SMU next week at 6 p.m. SMU lost to TCU 5636 on Saturday night in Fort Worth.
Arkansas State receiver Dijon Paschal (right) slips away from Arkansas-Pine Bluff cornerback Shufon Alcorn during Saturday night’s game at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro.
Quarterback Justice Hansen threw five touchdown passes, tying the Arkansas State record, to five different receivers. Hansen totaled 336 passing yards.
Running back Warren Wand (6) ran for 62 yards and a second-quarter touchdown on nine carries to lead Arkansas State past UAPB 48-3 on Saturday in Jonesboro.