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Ball State falls to Arkansas State 23-20

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 1:05 am •  Published: January 6, 2014

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Ball State coach Pete Lembo knew he had just witnessed some great football theater. The only problem, the ending wasn't what the Cardinals had in mind.

Arkansas State scored the winning touchdown on Fredi Knighten's 13-yard pass to Allen Muse with 32 seconds remaining, and the Red Wolves rallied for a 23-20 victory at the GoDaddy Bowl on Sunday night.

The Cardinals had a chance to tie it at the end of regulation, but Scott Secor's 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Ryan Carrethers as time expired.

"It was a great game. It really was," Lembo said. "I'm sure the fans got their money's worth out of this one. I'm sure the bowl people are happy about how people were glued to their TVs and stayed in the stands until the very end.

"Obviously for us, we're hurting because we had our chances to win, but we couldn't get it done."

Arkansas State (8-5) won the GoDaddy Bowl for a second straight season, despite losing starting quarterback Adam Kennedy to a knee injury in the second quarter. It was the Red Wolves' third consecutive trip to Mobile.

Knighten rescued Arkansas State's offense, finishing with 115 yards passing and 97 yards rushing. Muse, who considered quitting football following his father's suicide three years ago, wound up with the biggest catch of the night just five plays after Ball State scored what appeared to be the decisive touchdown.

"I'm extremely blessed," Muse said. "It's really hard to put into words what this means."

Ball State (10-3) went ahead 20-16 with 1:33 remaining on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jahwan Edwards, but couldn't hold the lead. Edwards finished with a game-high 146 yards rushing, but had to watch as Arkansas State rallied for the win.

"It's not over until the time's over," Edwards said. "It's hard to swallow."

Keith Wenning capped his Ball State career with 215 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. He is the first Ball State quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.

For a second straight season, Arkansas State shrugged off a coaching change to win the GoDaddy Bowl.

Arkansas State lost coach Bryan Harsin to Boise State in December. He is the latest in a string of three ASU coaches, including Hugh Freeze (Mississippi) and Gus Malzahn (Auburn), who have left the program for a more high-profile job.

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