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College Football: Foe’s strong first half dooms A-State

JONESBORO — A strong first-half showing propelled Louisiana-Lafayette this Tuesday night to a decisive 23-7 win over Arkansas State in an ESPN2 televised Sun Belt Conference (SBC) matchup for sole possession of first place at Liberty Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark.

Louisiana-Lafayette (5-2, 3-0 Sun Belt) surged to a 13-point lead over Arkansas State (3-4, 1-1 Sun Belt) at halftime and managed to keep the Red Wolves off the scoreboard the entire second half en route to winning its fifth straight contest. The loss snaps A-State’s eight-game conference winning streak and ends a team nine-game victory string for October outings.

Louisiana-Lafayette scored first and often in the first half, taking a 20-7 lead at the half. ULL put together two touchdowns and a field goal to claim a 17-0 early second-quarter advantage over the Red Wolves. A 36-yard field goal by Stephen Brauchle put ULL up 3-0 at 9:30 of the first quarter as the Ragin’ Cajuns intercepted senior quarterback Adam Kennedy pass on the contest’s opening possession setting up the score. The Ragin’ Cajuns would find the end zone oftheir next two possessions as Alonzo Harris recorded a pair of three-yard touchdown runs as A-State trailed 17-0 with 10:44 left to be played in the first half.

Arkansas State managed to slice into ULL’s double-digit lead as sophomore cornerback Rocky Hayes picked off a pass by Terrance Broadway at the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 39-yard line. The Red Wolves then drove 39 yards on six plays culminating in a three-yard quarterback keeper by Kennedy with 3:39 remaining in the quarter. Senior Brian Davis followed with a successful extra-point attempt as A-State trailed 17-7. With just over a minute left before halftime, ULL would get the ball and eventually scored as Stephen Brauchle booted the ball between uprights on a 38-yarder as the clock expired.

The momentum remained with Louisiana-Lafayette in the second half as the Ragin’ Cajuns generated the only scoring opportunities, missing on the first one and converting the next. Stephen Brauchle missed wide right on a 28-yard field goal attempt at the 6:57 mark, but redeemed himself on his next chance by making a 30-yarder with three seconds left in the third quarter as Louisiana-Lafayette held a 23-7 lead after three quarters.

ULL held A-State in check defensively as the Red Wolves managed to cross midfield on one occasion while the Ragin’ Cajuns was equally effective from an offensive standpoint with their time consuming ball-control offense. ULL put the clamps on A-State’s potent offense, holding the Red Wolves to 168 yards in total offense with quarterback Adam Kennedy limited to 89 yards on 11-of-20 passing with one interception. Sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic had a team-high six receptions for 51 yards and senior wideout Allen Muse finished with two grabs for 26 yards. Sophomore running back Michael Gordon rushed for a squad-most 31 yards as the Red Wolves mustered a 79-yard output on the ground

The Ragin’ Cajuns, who racked up 26 first downs for the game, ran up 265 rushing yards and had 205 in passing for a 470 total offensive yardage total. Running backs Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris chalked up 110 and 105 rushing yards, respectively while Terrance Broadway was 18-of-28 for 205 yards in the passing department. Jamal Robinson was Broadway’s favoritetarget, catching a game-high seven aerials for 104 yards.

Conversely, A-State’s defense would spend a significant amount of time on the field which led to both a game-high and career single-game best 16 tackles from senior defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers. Junior middle linebacker Qushaun Lee contributed 13 tackles (seven solos). Sophomore defensive end Chris Stone, who had a quarterback sack for minus seven yards, and junior cornerback Artez Brown chipped in with seven stops apiece. Strong safety T.J. Worth racked up 11 tackles (six solos) to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns.

The Red Wolves are on the road for their next two conference games, starting Saturday, Nov. 2, against the South Alabama Jaguars in Mobile, Ala. A 6:30 p.m. (CT) start time for the contest at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is scheduled and will be aired on ESPN3.com.

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