The 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl matches up the Kent State Golden Flashes(11-2, 8-0 MAC) and the Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt). gschwendt of The Gaming Tailgate runs with the Red Wolves (his alma mater) to see if they can bounce back after losing this game a season ago.
Red Wolves Start Slow, Bounce Back in 4th Quarter Thanks to Special Teams in GoDaddy.com Bowl Win
Mobile, A.L. – Arkansas State has been in this position before. Not just playing in a bowl game, nor even playing in the GoDaddy.com Bowl but more so losing their head coach prior to playing in the bowl game. The Red Wolves played in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl and lost to MAC foe Northern Illinois. In that season, they lost their head coach to an SEC team; this year, the Red Wolves again lost their head coach to an SEC team and face MAC foe Golden State.
On the other sideline, Kent State will also be losing their head coach (to Purdue) however he will continue to coach in the bowl game. However, perhaps more importantly, this will be the Golden Flashes first bowl game in 40 years. Not since the likes of Jack Lambert and Nick Saban wore the blue and gold have they had the honor to play in a bowl.
Getting into the game itself, you could sense that Arkansas State was struggling without their head coach. In the first half, their offense sputtered but did manage to put 10 points on the board. The usually unflappable QB #16 was pressured all night long forcing him to take 4 sacks and throw 3 interceptions, both of which rarely happen. As a result, the Golden Flashes took a 17-10 lead into the locker room and feeling very happy with themselves.
The third quarter did nothing to bring calm to Arkansas State as they were kept off the scoreboard with very little to hang their hat on. All the while, Kent State managed to extend their lead by adding 2 field goals to go up by 13.
Before going back out onto the field for the 4th quarter, Red Wolves players were seen huddled around their senior leaders. It appeared that they were telling their teammates to settle down, they weren’t ready to go home. As a result, in just under 1:30, the Red Wolves narrowed the gap on a 48 yard connection on 3rd & long from QB #16 to WR #1. That seemed to bring new life to not only the offense but also the Arkansas State defense forcing a 3 & out for Kent State in only 45 seconds.
The ensuing punt is where everything clicked for the Red Wolves. True Freshman HB #38 took the punt at his own 37 and proceeded to sprint 63 yards for the score and the one point lead with 4:45 remaining. From there, the Kent State players seemed completely deflated and as a result did not manage to even threaten the endzone. Arkansas State managed to add one last touchdown to ensure their victory and take home their first bowl victory since the 1970 Pecan Bowl.
Player of the Game: Arkansas State HB #25 with 22 carries for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.
It was over when… HB #38 returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown.
Game Ball goes to… HB #38 for his punt returned for TD.
Stat of the Game: 5 total interceptions thrown between the two teams.