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    A-State’s Fourth-Quarter Comeback Falls Short in Camellia Bowl
    a-state’s-fourth-quarter-comeback-falls-short-in-camellia-bowl

    December 23, 2023

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    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (12/23/23) – A 13-yard touchdown pass from Jaylen Raynor to Corey Rucker made it a two-point game with just over a minute left, but the Arkansas State football team could not complete the comeback in a 21-19 loss to Northern Illinois in the Camellia Bowl.

    A-State (6-7) rallied from a two-touchdown deficit on Saturday in the historic Cramton Bowl Stadium, but the Huskies (7-6) recovered an onside kick and ran out the final minute. NIU outgained the Red Wolves 421-351 and owned nearly a 20-minute advantage in time of possession.

    Raynor passed for 250 yards and completed both of his touchdown strikes to Rucker, who hauled in five catches for a game-high 107 yards. Rucker moved to fourth all-time in career touchdown receptions (16), while racking up his seventh career game with 100-plus receiving yards.

    Husky quarterback Rocky Lombardi passed for 200 yards on 18-of-29 with a touchdown, but Trevian Thomas and Samy Johnson picked off a pair of passes in the first half. Running back Antario Brown racked up 132 yards on 25 carries to help NIU tally 189 rushing yards. 

    Also on the defensive side of the ball, Johnson and Dane Motley led the way with career highs of 11 tackles apiece. 

    NIU scored on the game’s opening drive with Lombardi finding Grayson Barnes in the back of the end zone to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive, but the two-point conversion try was stopped.

    After an interception ended A-State’s first drive deep in the red zone, Thomas’ pick shifted possession back to the Scarlet and Black. On the next play, Raynor connected with a wide-open Rucker for a 42-yard touchdown strike.

    Lombardi then put the Huskies ahead 13-7 after one quarter, scoring on a 6-yard rush up the middle. NIU later upped its lead to 21-7 on a fake field goal toss from holder Tom Foley to kicker Kanon Woodill, who scampered 32 yards for the score. Lombardi then linked up with Trayvon Rudolph for a successful two-point conversion. 

    Dominic Zvada drilled two field goals from 28 and 45 yards out to cut the halftime deficit to 21-13, with the latter set up by Johnson’s interception. 

    Neither team scored in the third quarter, as a 23-yard field goal by Woodill careened off the right upright and the teams combined for five punts in the period.

    After the teams traded possession to start the fourth, Raynor and the A-State offense set up on their own 14 with 3:52 left in the contest. Seven plays later, Rucker caught Raynor’s pass at the 10 and muscled his way across the goal line, but the two-point pass to Reagan Ealy was incomplete. 

    The Red Wolves recovered their initial onside kick attempt, but a re-kick was issued after an offsides penalty. Northern Illinois then recovered the ensuing kick before running out the clock.

    Read more here:
    A-State’s Fourth-Quarter Comeback Falls Short in Camellia Bowl. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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