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September 22, 2008

Series by series: Defense can't slow Leonard

Middle Tennessee's defense couldn't stop ASU's attack Saturday as the Red Wolves scored a 31-14 win behind an outstanding effort from quarterback Corey Leonard.

Leonard ran for 74 yards and passed for 292 and the Blue Raider defense failed to force any turnovers.

Here's a series-by-series look at the defense's performance in Jonesboro.

1st Quarter

Plays: 4
Yards: 25
Mix: 3 run/1 pass
Result: Punt

Best play: On 3rd-and-short from inside Blue Raider territory, ASU handed the ball to star running back Reggie Arnold up the middle, but MT linebacker Ivon Hickmon and safety Kevin Brown stormed through the line to combine for a tackle-for-loss.
Worst play: ASU quarterback Corey Leonard opened the series on the very first play with a 17-yard pass to Kevin Jones, a play that turned out to be an ominous sign for the way the game would play out.
Notes: Leonard and the ASU coaching staff were upset with the spot of the ball after Leonard scrambled for nine yards on a second down play. The resulting third down play was the play highlighted above when Hickmon and Brown combined to stop Arnold.

Plays: 7
Yards: 57
Mix: 2 run/5 pass
Result: Leonard 17 yard touchdown pass to Arnold

Best play: MT linebacker Andrew Harrington stopped Leonard for no gain on the third play of the series, which momentarily put a stop to the Red Wolves' momentum after Leonard had thrown a 26-yard pass on the preceding play.
Worst play: After forcing a 3rd-and-10 in the red zone, the Blue Raiders dialed up a blitz but ASU had the perfect answer. Leonard lofted a screen over the top of the blitz to Arnold, who bolted down the right sideline for a 17-yard touchdown.
Notes: ASU's scoring drive was aided by a 23-yard punt return by Kevin Jones, which set the Red Wolves up near midfield.

Plays: 3
Yards: 8
Mix: 2 run/1 pass
Result: Punt

Best play: On 2nd-and-10, Leonard took off to the left but was unable to turn the corner in the face of pressure from MT linebacker Danny Carmichael, who forced Leonard out of bounds for a two yard loss.
Worst play: None
Notes: ASU's initial fourth down punt was almost a disaster for MT, as the Blue Raiders were flagged for running into the kicker. However, ASU was called for an illegal formation which offset the running into the kicker penalty and forced ASU to punt again on the replay of fourth down.

2nd Quarter

Plays: 13
Yards: 81
Mix: 4 run/9 pass
Result: Field goal

Best play: MT forced a field goal after allowing a long drive when Harrington and Brown combined to force an incompletion from Leonard intended for Trevor Gillott on 3rd-and-10.
Worst play: MT brought a blitz on 3rd-and-13 from the ASU 28 yard line, but the Red Wolves offensive front picked it up without a problem, allowing Leonard to connect deep with Jones for a 54 yard gain deep inside Blue Raider territory.
Notes: Arnold had a nine yard run on the third play of the drive, but ASU didn't gain another rushing yard on the drive in three more attempts ... Leonard was just 3-of-8 on the drive, but his three completions totaled 78 yards

Plays: 4
Yards: 15
Mix: 1 run/3 pass
Result: Punt

Best play: Carmichael set the tone for the drive on the first play when he dropped Arnold for no gain.
Worst play: The Blue Raiders were flagged for pass interference on the second play of the series, giving the Red Wolves their only first down of the possession.
Notes: MT caught a break when Brandon Thompkins dropped a slant pass on the first down right after the penalty

Plays: 2
Yards: 67
Mix: 0 run/2 pass
Result: David Johnson 14 yard touchdown pass from Leonard

Best play: None
Worst play: Leonard hit Jarriel Norman, who beat MT's Rod Issac, for 53 yards on the first play to immediately put ASU in scoring position just before halftime.
Notes: Jones helped set the stage for ASU with another good punt return, as he took David Defatta's kick back 23 yards out past the ASU 30 yard line.

3rd Quarter

Plays: 11
Yards: 74
Mix: 6 run/5 pass
Result: Johnson two yard touchdown pass from Leonard

Best play: Jeremy Kellem and Jonathan Presley combined to stop Arnold for no gain on 2nd-and-1 from inside the 10 yard line, giving the Blue Raiders a chance to limit the damage of a very efficient second half opening drive by ASU.
Worst play: Leonard started and finished the drive by connecting with Johnson. The first play of the drive was a 24 yard connection with Johnson to get the Red Wolves off and running.
Notes: The drive took up more than six minutes

Plays: 4
Yards: 9
Mix: 2 run/2 pass
Result: Punt

Best play: Carmichael stuffed Arnold for a six yard loss on the third play to set up a 3rd-and-16 for the Red Wolves.
Worst play: Arnold burst free for a 15 yard run to start the drive.
Notes: The defense responded well after having to come right back out on the field following the offense's three-and-out after ASU's long opening drive in the third quarter.

4th Quarter

Plays: 9
Yards: 88
Mix: 5 run/4 pass
Result: Derek Lawson 14 yard touchdown run

Best play: Alex Suber had a great pass breakup in the end zone to prevent Leonard from hooking up with Norman for a score.
Worst play: Leonard scrambled for 23 yards after faking an end around. MT's Ted Riley had a chance to get him on the ground with minimal damage done but missed a tackle and allowed Leonard into the clear.
Notes: Suber missed a tackle on Lawson on the touchdown run ... Carmichael and Jamari Lattimore combined to stop Thompkins for a loss of one on an end around, but MT was ruled offsides on the play

Plays: 3
Yards: -1
Mix: 3
Result: Punt

Best play: Harrington and Dwight Smith dropped Lawson for a three yard loss on 3rd-and-short.
Worst play: None
Notes: ASU started trying to run the clock out with a big lead by keeping the ball on the ground.

Plays: 6
Yards: 25
Mix: 6 run/0 pass
Result: End of game

Best play: Trevor Jenkins and Cam Robinson stopped Lawson for a one yard loss on the first play of the game's final series.
Worst play: Lawson worked his way free for a 22 yard run on 3rd-and-11 before Anthony Glover tracked him down.
Notes: ASU kneeled the ball on the final two plays to run out the clock.

Final Numbers

Points: 31
Yards: 440
Rushing: 148
Passing: 291
Yards per play: 6.8


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