January 7, 2013
Mobile, Alabama - For the second straight season an interim head coach led Arkansas State in the same bowl game. This year, the result was more to ASU's liking as the program notched its first-ever bowl win, 17-13 over Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Sunday night in Mobile.
Last season, it was David Gunn subbing for Hugh Freeze in a 38-20 loss to Northern Illinois. This season, it was John Thompson in place of Gus Malzahn in the victory over the Golden Flashes.
Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was announced December 12 as the new head coach at Arkansas State. Harsin spent 10 seasons with Boise State before heading to the Longhorns for the last two seasons. He was not with Texas for the 31-27 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State.
It was the last game at Kent State for Darrell Hazell who now takes over the reins at Purdue. Former walk-on player Paul Haynes, who spent the season as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas, takes over at Kent State. Haynes was as an assistant with the Ohio State Buckeyes from 2005-2011. He was a standout defensive back with the Golden Flashes from 1987-1992.
This was the first-ever bowl win for Arkansas State (1-2) as Kent State dropped to 0-2 after playing in its first bowl game since 1972. The Golden Flashes were ranked 25th in the final BCS Standings after climbing to 17th before losing to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game.
Arkansas State captured its first outright Sun Belt title in 2011 and gained its first 10-win season since 1986. That team finished 10-3 after the loss to NIU. Little did anyone believe that the program would repeat those feats with a different head coach in 2012, but the Red Wolves did indeed capture another outright Sun Belt title and finished 10-3 with this win over Kent State at the same bowl destination.
Ryan Aplin passed for 213 yards and a touchdown, but Kent State held the nation's 17th-ranked team in total offense to just 284 yards.
24 of the game's 30 total points were tallied in the second quarter.
J.D. McKissic had the lone TD reception that put ASU ahead 14-7 late in the first half after trailing 7-0 on Dri Archer's 16-yard run. David Oku's 10-yard run tied the game. The Golden Flashes cut it to 14-10 at the break on a 42-yard field goal by David Cortez.
The Red Wolves made it 17-10 on a Brian Davis 25-yard kick with 8:35 to go in the 3rd, and Cortez answered late in the 3rd with a 26-yarder to produce what ultimately became the final score.
Kent State marched to the Arkansas State 25 late in the game, but a 4th-down by QB Spencer Keith came up short and the ball was turned over on downs with only 52 ticks left on the clock.
Archer, the No. 27 rusher in the nation, was limited to 77 yards on 9 carries and 4 catches for 22 yards.
McKissic finished with 11 grabs for 113 yards for the Red Wolves who finished the season on an 8-game winning streak.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com projected Arkansas State as a 2.86-point winner.