Layne Hatcher's 4 TDs Lead Arkansas State to 2019 Camellia Bowl Win vs. FIU

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

MONTGOMERY, AL - DECEMBER 21: Tight end Reed Tyler #87 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves celebrates with wide receiver Dahu Green #4 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves and wide receiver Kirk Merritt #13 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the third quarter of their game against the FIU Golden Panthers in the Camellia Bowl at the Crampton Bowl on December 21, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

The Arkansas State Red Wolves capped their season with a 34-26 victory over the Florida International Panthers in the 2019 Camellia Bowl on Saturday.

Quarterback Layne Hatcher led the way for the Red Wolves by throwing for 393 yards and four touchdowns.

Arkansas State (8-5) won five of its final six games. It marked the Red Wolves' first bowl victory since 2016, as they had lost their postseason games in each of the past two seasons.

FIU (6-7) came up short in its quest to finish above .500 after rallying from a 1-3 start. The Panthers were unable to record a bowl victory for the second consecutive year, falling to 2-3 in the postseason in program history.

FIU kicker Jose Borregales set a Camellia Bowl record with four field goals, including a Camellia-record 52-yarder. He did, however, miss a 29-yarder that would have given the Panthers a 29-27 lead with 5:10 to play.

   

Notable Performances

Florida International

QB James Morgan: 22/38, 312 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

RB Napoleon Maxwell: 13 carries, 66 yards, one touchdown

WR Austin Maloney: 10 catches, 178 yards, one touchdown

K Jose Borregales: 4/5 FG, 2/2 PAT

   

Arkansas State

QB Layne Hatcher: 27/51, 393 yards, four touchdowns, one interception; nine carries, 37 yards

RB Jamal Jones: 10 carries, 59 yards

WR Omar Bayless: nine catches, 180 yards, one touchdown

WR: Jonathan Adams Jr. four catches, 63 yards, one touchdown

   

Strong Start Propels Red Wolves to Victory

Arkansas State has had little trouble lighting up the scoreboard this season, and its bowl game was no different.

Entering the game averaging 36.7 points per game, the Red Wolves pounced all over the Panthers early on. Hatcher led the offense 80 yards in just more than three minutes on its opening drive to grab an early 7-0 lead. After a three-and-out on their second possession, they closed out the opening quarter with a 13-play, 90-yard drive.

The key to the early success? A balanced attack. Arkansas State piled up 73 passing yards and 76 rushing yards in the first quarter, resulting in a 14-point lead after 15 minutes of play.

Though Hatcher was unable to lead his team into the end zone in the second quarter, he did help the Red Wolves tack on a pair of field goals, resulting in a 20-spot in the first half.

Arkansas State only managed scores on just two second-half drives, but their final score could not have come at a better time. Following Borregales' missed field goal late in the fourth, Hatcher guided Arkansas State on an 80-yard touchdown drive to extend the lead to eight.

Of note, it was Arkansas State's ability to make plays in the clutch (12-19 on third downs, 1-2 on fourth downs) that helped keep drives alive and ultimately led to points. And with the game on the line, the Red Wolves defense came up with crucial interceptions on each of the Panthers' final two drives to seal the victory.

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