A poorly-executed trick play, a missed chip-shot field goal and a miserable fake punt attempt.
Those three plays — all within a five-minute span in the second quarter — put Arkansas State University (3-3) in too big of a hole, and the Red Wolves lost to Appalachian State (3-1) 45-17 on Thursday night in Boone, N.C.
The only bright spot for the Red Wolves was senior wide receiver Jonathan Adams Jr., who had his third-straight 100-yard receiving game, catching six passes for 134 yards.
Other than that, ASU struggled on both sides of the ball.
Arkansas State kept pace early, responding to Appalachian State's first touchdown with a score of its own on senior running back Jamal Jones' eight-yard rush into the end zone. But those would be the only points the Red Wolves would score in the first half, while the Mountaineers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.
While App State led 21-7 early in the second quarter, ASU appeared to still be in the game. Then, disaster struck over a 5:08 period midway through the second quarter.
Arkansas State tried to dial up a trick play when sophomore wide receiver Jeff Foreman attempted to connect with junior tight end Reed Tyler, but he threw into triple coverage and was intercepted. On App State's very next play, junior safety Antonio Fletcher gave ASU the ball back with his own interception.
ASU wasn't able to capitalize, though, failing to score as junior kicker Blake Grupe missed a 24-yard field goal.
On ASU's next possession, still trailing 21-7 after another forced turnover by ASU's defense, the Red Wolves attempted a fake punt from their own 27-yard line. It had no chance, and it eventually led to an App State field goal.
App State added another touchdown right before the half, taking a commanding 31-7 lead into the locker room.
ASU added its second field goal to cut it to a 21-point game to start the third quarter. After a couple of stops by ASU's defense, the Red Wolves finally capitalized on offense, as freshman running back Lincoln Pare broke off a 48-yard touchdown run to make it 31-17 with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
App State quarterback Zac Thomas — the preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year — then made the back-breaking play of game, scoring on a 60-yard run on a third and 14 to take a 38-17 lead into the final quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher threw an interception in the back of the end zone to start the fourth quarter. App State turned it into a touchdown minutes later, taking a 45-17 lead with 8:22 to go. Neither team would score again.
Arkansas State will be back at home in Jonesboro on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m. against Troy.