- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson was worried that stopping Toledo running back Kareem Hunt would be a difficult task.

Hunt’s record-setting performance on Sunday night confirmed those fears.

The Toledo sophomore ran for a GoDaddy Bowl-record 271 yards and five touchdowns as the Rockets beat Arkansas State 63-44 in an entertaining game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

“He’s just a beast,” Anderson said. “He runs through arm tackles, his legs never stop churning and his knees are hitting guys in the chin.”

Arkansas State tried to keep up with Toledo’s torrid offensive pace and succeeded for most of the night, but two costly turnovers and Hunt’s big night proved too much to overcome.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Hunt capped a phenomenal season by slicing through Arkansas State’s defense early and often. The performance easily set a GoDaddy Bowl record, topping the previous mark of 207 set by Tulsa’s Tarrion Adams in 2009.

“Kareem has a special gear and it happens a lot when you least expect it,” Toledo center Greg Mancz said. “That’s what makes him so special.”

Hunt, who was the game’s offensive MVP, said he wished he could give the trophy to the offensive line.

“We just had to keep putting points on the board,” Hunt said. “Our offense definitely did that and the offensive line never stopped blocking.”

Toledo (9-4) ended the season on a three-game winning streak.

Arkansas State (7-6) pulled within 49-38 in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer. The Red Wolves were playing in their fourth straight GoDaddy Bowl and fell to 2-2 over that span.

Arkansas State’s Fredi Knighten threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns.

It was an entertaining game that featured three defensive touchdowns, six touchdowns of at least 40 yards and Arkansas State linebacker Xavier Woodson getting kicked out of the game for “threatening an official.”

Big numbers were the norm, even outside of Hunt’s record-setting performance. Knighten’s day was tempered by two costly fumbles that were both returned for touchdowns. Arkansas State’s Booker Mays caught five passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

The two teams combined for 1,009 total yards.

Hunt’s stellar performance wasn’t a surprise - he’s been piling up numbers for more than year. The Willoughby, Ohio, native moved into a starting role midway through his freshman season and has run for at least 100 yards in all 10 games he played this season.

Toledo finished with 365 yards rushing, including 103 yards and two touchdowns by Damion Jones-Moore. Logan Woodside completed 21 of 27 passes for 176 yards.

“We’ve had a confidence about ourselves that we can run the football because that’s who we are and that’s what we do,” Toledo coach Matt Campbell said.

It was a frantic start to the game with two touchdowns scored in the first 90 seconds.

Knighten fumbled on Arkansas State’s first play and Toledo’s Trent Voss recovered in the end zone to give the Rockets a 7-0 lead. The Red Wolves bounced back quickly, though, needing just five plays to tie the game on Knighten’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Mays.

Toledo scored two more touchdowns by the end of the first quarter - both on runs by Hunt - to take a 21-14 advantage. The 35 combined points in one quarter tied a GoDaddy Bowl record.

Arkansas State pulled within 21-17 by midway through the second quarter, but the Red Wolves had no answer for Hunt and couldn’t overcome some costly turnovers.

Toledo added two more touchdowns in the waning minutes of the first half: Hunt ran for a 29-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-2 play and then 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive Allen Covington recovered a fumble by Knighten and rumbled 67 yards for the touchdowns.

It gave the Rockets a 35-17 halftime lead despite Arkansas State’s 250-237 advantage in total yards.

“I put us in a hole early,” Knighten said. “It’s hard to come back when you give a team 14 points. I put us in a tough spot, but we had resiliency and our guys fought.”

Arkansas State didn’t go away until late in the fourth quarter. The Red Wolves fell behind 42-17 midway through the third quarter, but responded with two quick touchdowns, including a 94-yard interception return by Money Hunter, who is the son of major league outfielder Torii Hunter.


Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide