MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Curtis Steele rushed for 203 yards and a touchdown and kicker Vinny Zaccario made three field goals to lead Memphis to a 29-17 over Arkansas State on Saturday. Charlie Jones added a pair of touchdown runs for the Tigers (2-3), who won their second straight. The Red Wolves had won the last two games in the series on a final-play desperation pass in 2006, and a second-half rally that erased a 31-6 Memphis lead last year. This time, the Tigers had enough of a cushion to hold off the Red Wolves (3-2), the final Tiger score coming on Steeles 2-yard run with 2:12 left.
The Memphis defense was effective in the game, allowing Arkansas State only 124 yards in the second half and holding the Wolves scoreless. Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald recorded four sacks in the game. Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard completed 11 of 23 passes for 173 yards. Derek Lawson led Red Wolves rushers with 79 yards on 11 carries. The Wolves led 17-16 at the half, the difference being a blocked extra point after the Tigers second touchdown. Zaccario was doing the Tiger kicking after regular kicker Matt Reagan suffered a hip injury before the game. Zaccario converted a 20-yard field goal in the second quarter, and added kicks of 37 and 40 yards in the second half. Memphis, which had success with it running game last week against Nicholls State, started on the ground Saturday. Jones scored on runs of 3 and 7 yards, while Steele recorded 70 yards on the ground for the Tigers in the half. The Red Wolves offense was stymied on the first two drives before their ground attack got untracked with Leonards fakes and the running of Reggie Arnold and Lawson.
Leonard opened the Arkansas State scoring with a 23-yard run, and Arnold added 9-yard touchdown. Josh Araucos 33-yard field goal with 18 seconds left before halftime gave the Red Wolves the lead heading into the break, but it would be their last points. Arkansas State, which had 145 yards rushing in the half, was limited to 83 yards through the air, most of them coming when Leonard facing third-and-10 at his own 6, connected with Arnold on a screen pass for 51 yards leading to the Wolves second touchdown.