Arkansas State Red Wolves lose a classic thriller against the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Arkansas State was not intimidated by Nebraska and their 90,000 fans. But Blake Anderson and his Red Wolves came up juuuuuuuust short against the Cornhuskers. The good and the bad of a 36-43 loss in Lincoln.
It came down to a onside kick (successfully executed), a drive into the Nebraska’s Red Zone, and two seconds left in the contest. But QB Justice Hansen’s throw was a bit high for Kendrick Edwards to haul in, and Nebraska managed a breathtaking 36-43 victory.
Red Wolves fans will likely point to a pair of 4th quarter calls that would affect the game’s outcome: a Hansen to Chris Murray TD throw that was called an incomplete (result, field goal) and later what was clearly a fumble declared otherwise. Still, the Red Wolves were in position to win the game after a Hansen to Kendrick Edwards strike pulled the score within seven, and an onside kick recovered by Murray gave Arkansas State one last shot at its first victory over a Big 10 opponent.
But it was not to be.
The Red Wolves were not intimidated.
Well, maybe a little at first. The Red Wolves’ opened the game with a botched snap, a false start and a shanked punt, and eventually surrendered three points. But a Blaise Taylor punt return to the house gave the Red Wolves its FIRST EVER lead against the Huskers.
But Nebraska answered immediately with a 99 yard kick off return from JD Spielman and the Cornhuskers would trail again. But the Red Wolves refused to back down.
At halftime, the score was 27-26, with Hansen tossing TD passes to Murray and Blake Mack. The Cornhuskers would then score 14 unanswered before the controversial denial of the Red Wolves TD resulted in a field goal.
With less than half a minute left in the game, and the score at 36-43, the Red Wolves executed a perfect onside kick, and Hansen led the team down the field, the drive finally stalling mere yards before the end zone.
Tanner Lee earned respect
The knock on Lee was that was pick-prone. But the transfer from Tulane was poised and accurate the entire game, throwing 19-32 for 2 TDs and zero INTs.
Arkansas State had trouble stopping Tre Bryant
The Nebraska running back was dynamite on Saturday Night, accounting for 192 yards and a score. Lee was solid, but Bryant did the most damage to the Red Wolves.
The Red Wolves were (mostly) great
Once again, Arkansas State was plagued by too many false starts and silly penalties, buuuuuuut fans couldn’t complain about 497 total yards of offense and some incredible play from LB Kyle Wilson and CB Blaise Taylor.
The Offensive Line looked bad ass
For the most part, Justice Hansen was kept clean all night, enjoying plenty of time to find receivers Lanard Bonner had a couple false starts, and Jaypee Philbert was credited with a hold that resulted in a safety, but the line held.
Chris Murray and Kendrick Edwards were super stars
Murray and Edwards both benefited from Hansen’s superb play, with Edwards collecting 100 yards and a TD, and Murray grabbing nine passes for 90 yards and a score. The wide receivers did the heavy lifting for the offense, with Omar Bayless, Blake Mack and Christian Booker all making big plays.
Justice Hansen proved himself a leader
Hansen was credited with two picks, but one was the result of a tip. The junior QB put up 415 yards and 3 TDs against Nebraska’s dangerous secondary. Is Hansen emerging as the best QB in the Sun Belt?
The defense was good not great
Joe Cauthen’s bend don’t break defense kept the Red Wolves in the game, but Caleb Casten record Arkansas State’s only sack. Kyle Wilson recorded a team best 10 tackles, and seemed involved on every play. And while Taylor was sometimes burned on plays, his aggressiveness more often than not resulted in big stops.
Nebraska has playmakers, too
Joshua Kalu pulled in a critical pick in the 4th quarter, and Morgan Stanley’s 5 catches for 102 yards frustrated the Red Wolves secondary all night. Combined with Lee’s poise and Bryant’s power, the Cornhuskers had just enough firepower to stave off the hard charging Red Wolves.
Red Wolves host Miami Hurricanes, and the Cornhuskers take on Oregon.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.