JONESBORO -- Arkansas State University's slow-starting offense finished strong Saturday in the Red Wolves' final spring scrimmage.
Three of the Red Wolves' quarterbacks produced touchdown drives as the offense rallied for a 45-32 victory over the defense in a fast-paced, 89-play, 75-minute practice game on a sunny and windy afternoon at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Both units had reasons to boast. The defense made four sacks and forced a fumble inside the 10 in the first 20 plays. The offense came up with points -- two touchdowns and a field goal -- in three of its final four possessions.
"We had some good plays and some bad plays, but that's going to happen," said junior quarterback Logan Bonner, who is the projected starter this fall. "Offensively, we started slow, but I felt we picked it up toward the end."
Bonner, senior Carson Coats, and freshmen Coltin Clack and KaRon Coleman combined to complete 34 of 55 passes for 307 yards. Bonner threw both of the Red Wolves' TD passes, hitting sophomore Marcel Murray for a 14-yard strike and senior Dahu Green on a 17-yarder.
"It was good to see Bonner at all because we haven't had him in a week and a half," Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson said.
Bonner completed 12 of 20 passes for 130 yards. Coats was 16 of 26 for 104 yards; Clack 4 of 6 for 52 yards; and Coleman 2 of 3 for 21 yards.
"Logan has missed a little bit, and he has not gotten as many reps as we may have liked to get but it's also given guys like Coltin Clack a lot of reps. To develop depth in that area, you need those reps," offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf said. "It's been both good and bad, but we've seen great growth."
Senior Omar Bayless caught a game-high six passes for 58 yards. Junior Eugene Minter hauled in four passes for a game-high 64 yards.
The running game struggled against what is ASU's biggest strength -- a physical defensive front. Nine running backs combined for 46 yards on 37 carries. The defense finished with nine sacks, including two each by junior transfer Aaron Donkor and junior end William Bradley-King.
"We've got a good defensive line," said redshirt freshman Donovan Marshall, who scored one of the Red Wolves' two rushing TDs with a 2-yard run. "Forrest [Merrill], Will [Bradley-King], all of those big boys. They're big, strong and physical, but we get better working against them every day."
Sophomore Alex Roberts, a sophomore from Cabot, scored the game's final touchdown, rushing in from 9 yards out on the final series.
Triston Anderson, a 6-0 redshirt freshman cornerback from Rockwall, Texas, led the Red Wolves with eight tackles. Javier Carbonell, a senior defensive lineman from Bentonville, made seven tackles and recovered a fumble.
The defense dominated early, getting two three-and-outs in two of the first three possessions. The unit did not allow the offense to score on eight of the first nine drives.
"I was a little disappointed coming out of last week's scrimmage," ASU defensive coordinator Sean Coughlin said. "The emphasis today was to come out and play like our hair was on fire. I thought we got that today."
"Overall, it was a good day," Anderson said. "I wanted to get out of it healthy, and I think we did. We had a few bumps and bruises, but nothing big. We got in the right amount of plays on a beautiful day in front of a big crowd. We got some good work done."
Arkansas State opens the season at home Aug. 31 against SMU.
Sports on 04/21/2019
Print Headline: ASU's two sides take turns shining