Several big scoring plays by the Miami Hurricane proved too much for the Arkansas State University football team to overcome as the Red Wolves suffered a 41-20 loss in a non-league tilt this Saturday (Sept. 12) afternoon before 41,519 spectators at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Miami scored its touchdowns on passes covering 63 yards twice along with a pair of runs which covered 27 and 33 yards, respectively. The Hurricane, who improved their record to 2-1 this season, finished the day with 488 yards in total offense while A-State recorded 329 yards, which included 236 passing yards.
A-State trailed Miami 21-7 after the opening quarter as the Hurricane scored a touchdown on their first two possessions. A 63-yard scoring strike from true freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett on Miami’s second offensive play of the game put the hosts up 7-0 less than four minutes into the contest, but the Red Wolves managed to erase the deficit on their next offensive series.
A-State took the kickoff and marched 65 yards down the field in 11 plays culminating in junior Fredi Knighten’s one-yard quarterback keeper with 9:03 remaining in the quarter to tie the score at 7-7. Knighten completed five passes during A-State’s scoring drive, which included back-to-back 11-yard tosses to junior tight end Darion Griswold and junior wide receiver J.D. McKissic to set up the Red Wolves’ score. The game didn’t stay tied for long as Miami came right back on the ensuing kickoff and scored by utlizing the long pass. The Canes’ Brad Kaaya hooked up with Phillip Dorsett on a 51-yard aerial to give Miami the ball at the A-State 19-yard line and then on the next play, Kaaya then connected with Clive Walford on a 19-yard scoring pass as the Hurricane went back on top at 14-7 with 8:21 left in the stanza.
The Red Wolves then would face a 20-7 deficit late in the first quarter as Miami hit paydirt for the third straight time as running back Duke Johnson dashed 33 yards into the end zone with 3:12 to be played in the opening frame. A-State had its share of scoring opportunities but was unsuccessful in converting as junior kicker Luke Ferguson missed wide on a pair of field goal attempts from 36 yards in the first quarter and from 42 yards early in the second.
Miami extended its lead to 27-7 with 1:16 remaining before the end of the first half as running back Gus Edwards broke several tackles and scampered 27 yards for the Canes’ fourth TD. A 32-yard return by frosh Daryl Rollins-Davis on the Miami kickoff gave A-State the ball at its own 40-yard line and the Red Wolves would move into Hurricane territory on the next play as Knighten completed an 18-yard pass to J.D. McKissic. Two plays later, Miami was flagged for pass interference moving A-State to UM’s 19-yard line. The Red Wolves signaled for a trick play and the call paid dividends as J.D. McKissic took a Knighten handoff on a reverse and flipped the ball to junior wideout Tres Houston, who threw a backfield pass to a wide open Knighten at the nine-yard line. Knighten hauled in Houston’s pass and sprinted to goal-line marker with 16 seconds left as A-State sliced the deficit to 27-14 at intermission.
Miami upped its lead to 34-14 in the third quarter as defensive lineman Olsen Pierre recovered a Fredi Knighten fumble at the UM 40-yard line, which eventually led to a 63-yard TD scoring pass play from Brad Kaaya to Phillip Dorsett with 8:32 left on the clock. Kaaya would throw his fourth TD pass of the game less than five minutes later with a six-yard toss to wide receiver Braxton Berrios to make it 41-14.
A-State started the fourth quarter on a positive note as the Red Wolves drove 89 yards in 16 plays resulting in a seven-yard TD run by redshirt freshman running back Johnston White as the visitors narrowed the gap to 41-20 with a second under 10 minutes left in the game.
For the Red Wolves, Knighten ended the day throwing for 217 yards on 22-of-40 pass completions while his counterpart, Brady Kaaya chalked up 342 passing yards after completing 16-of-24 passes with four TD’s.
Johnston White led the A-State rushing attack with 83 yards on 14 carries for a 5.9 yards per attempt average while J.D. McKissic was the Red Wolves’ favorite target with seven receptions for 59 yards. Redshirt freshman wideout Brandon Cox contributed five grabs for 29 yards. Duke Johnson was the game’s top rusher with 90 yards on 14 attempts and Phillip Dorsett caught four passes for 201 yards and two TD’s to help key the Miami offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt junior defensive back Charleston Girley’s 10 tackles (six solos) led the way. Redshirt senior free safety Sterling Young compiled eight stops (five solos) as did redshirt senior defensive back Frankie Jackson (four solos), sophomore defensive back Money Hunter (four solos), and redshirt senior linebacker Qushaun Lee (four solos), who also notched a pass interception.
A-State, which drops to 1-2 overall this season, returns home to host the Utah State Aggies next Saturday, Sept. 20, in its final non-conference game of the 2014 regular season. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at A-State's Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Ark., and the contest will be televised live on ESPN3.