JONESBORO — Not two weeks have passed since Adam Kennedy was named Arkansas State’s starting quarterback. While it took much of preseason camp for the Utah State transfer to separate himself from the other starting hopefuls, Kennedy didn’t take long to impress in his Red Wolves debut.
Kennedy completed 9 of 12 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown Saturday as the Red Wolves thrashed Arkansas-Pine Bluff 62-11. But with backup Fredi Knighten and three running backs each going for more than 100 yards, the senior from Elk Grove, Calif., didn’t have to put in much work.
“I thought his decisions were good, for the amount of opportunities he had,” Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin said. “… His operation was very good. I thought his communication, play-calling from the sideline and how to handle himself was very good. I think the pass game was very good.”
Harsin said during preseason camp Knighten, who two years ago was a highly touted recruit from Pulaski Academy, would play somewhere on the field, but he made the QB role a great fit Saturday. Knighten was used for direct-snap running plays during the first half and came up big with two touchdowns without attempting a pass. David Oku and Sirgregory Thornton each ran for two touchdowns as well. Oku had a 17-yard scoring run off a “Statue of Liberty” play, which was made famous during the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in which Boise State defeated Oklahoma 43-42. Harsin was Boise State’s offensive coordinator at that time.
With transfer Dylan Neiheiser among the UAPB players not cleared to play Saturday, placekicker Tyler Strickland took over punting duties, booting away 10 times with an average of 41.6 yards per punt. He pinned the Red Wolves inside their own 20 three times and had a touchback.
Arkansas State punted just once Saturday, and that came at the end of the third quarter. Australian native Paul Jones delivered a 39-yard punt at the end of the third quarter.
Southeast Arkansas’ Red Wolves
Redshirt freshman Marquis Walker began his A-State playing career with 11 carries for 34 yards, all during the second half. The Rison graduate is one of eight Southeast Arkansans on the Red Wolves roster.
Tight end Darion Griswold of Dumas had one catch for 14 yards. Dollarway alumnus Charleston Girley, who plays the Wolf position, had an assisted tackle.
Freshman defensive back Money Hunter, one of Pine Bluff native Torii Hunter’s three sons, had three tackles.
The game ball goes to …
The A-State running back corps, who helped the Red Wolves tie a Football Bowl Subdivision record for most 100-yard rushers in a single game with four.
Highlights of the game will be shown during the A-State coach’s show at 10:30 tonight on KTHV, channel 11.
Next for the Lions …
UAPB will play its final nonconference game of the season next Saturday against McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.