The Arkansas State Red Wolves blew out Central Florida 31-13 in the Cure Bowl to cap off another solid season.
That’s not to say that ASU was perfect. It clearly wasn’t. The Red Wolf offense struggled for most of the evening, rushing 38 times for 29 yards and completing only 12 of 26 passes. As a result, Arkansas State went just 3 of 17 on third down conversions, and finished with a season-low 234 yards.
In addition, the Red Wolves committed 15 penalties for 140 yards.
Yet, they won the game convincingly, thanks to a few big plays on special teams. ASU took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, when it recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. The special teams would set up another touchdown later in the opening frame, recovering a fumble at the UCF 16, which allowed the Red Wolves to go up 17-0.
The strong first period gave Arkansas State all the cushion that it would need. Sure, UCF scored 10 points in the second quarter to cut the lead to seven, but with the way the Red Wolf defense played in this contest, the team was never in danger of losing. The ASU front seven dominated the line of scrimmage for the full 60 minutes, recording six sacks and limiting the Knights to 12 yards on 30 carries. The Red Wolf D also came up big on crucial downs, allowing UCF to convert on just 3 of 18 third down chances, while stopping them twice on fourth down.
With the victory, Arkansas State capped off yet another successful season. Sure, the 8-5 record is probably a disappointment to some, considering the lofty expectations that the team had coming into the 2016 campaign. But, it’s hard not to be impressed with the way the Red Wolves finished out the year. Remember, Arkansas State limped out to an 0-4 start, which included a devastating home loss to Central Arkansas. Rather than give up, the Red Wolves fought back with the poise of a champion, winning seven of their final eight games to capture their fifth Sun Belt title in the last six seasons.
It’s hard to argue with those results.