Welcome back Taylor Stockemer.
Seeing his most significant playing time this season, the senior from Van Buren grabbed four passes for 65 yards, including a key 9-yard touchdown pass when the Red Wolves grabbed a 36-22 lead with 11:55 to play.
And in a game where you never really felt comfortable, in part because of ASU's miscues and USA's playmakers, that two touchdown lead was needed.
After a third bad punt of the night -- this one a 13-yarder by Neely Sullivent and the previous kick by Ryan Wilboune was blocked -- USA scored with 17 seconds left on a fourth-down touchdown pass.
Julian Jones recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the 36-29 victory in a game played before a homecoming crowd of 22,143.
"We are tickled to get the win,'' said ASU coach Gus Malzahn. "but disappointed we didn't protect the football. We had some special teams breakdowns and we had some trouble getting off the field on third down, but the bottom line is we won the second conference victory in a row. Now we have some momentum going into the next game.''
ASU (4-3, 2-1) will be off until Tuesday, Oct. 23 when they travel to play UL-Lafayette. ULL plays at North Texas this Tuesday.
"It's a long game; college football is a long game,'' Malzahn said. "There were some disappointments at halftime because we didn't have very much momentum, but we were leading, and it's a credit to our team to come out and play well in the second half. "We have got to do a better job. We are a solid team when we don't turn the ball over; we can be average if we do.''
It was a contest that started bad for ASU -- down 10-0 midway through the first quarter -- and had the Red Wolves seemingly running up hill the entire contest.
USA took The Opening drive and drove 75 yards in nine plays and Kyndall Houston caught a 4-yard pass from Ross Metheny. After J.D. McKissic fumbled on the Red Wolves' first play, the Jags added a 26-yard field goal from Michael Chapuseaux for a 10-0 lead.
The Red Wolves would never trail again.
But they would never feel comfortable.
USA, which came in with just one victory, controlled the ball for most of the night and ran 29 more plays that the Red Wolves. The Jags won the total offense battle 373 to 316 and were 9 of 20 on third down and 4 of 6 on fourth down.
ASU could not get the Jags off the field.
And turnovers did not help. ASU lost three fumbles, one which led to a field goal, one that lead to a missed field goal, and another on the 5 that robbed ASU of points right before halftime. Ryan Aplin had three fumbles, two of them recovered by the Jaguars.
It was not a well-polished first half, but the Red Wolves did manage to lead 14-13 after Chapuseaux hit from 39 with 2:22 left.
ASU took the opening possession of the second half and drove 73 yards with McKissic catching a 10-yard TD pass from Aplin, who finished 17 of 22 for 203 yards and three touchdowns. Brian Davis kicked it 21-13. McKissic finished with seven receptions for
Jereme Jones caught a 13-yard pass from Metheny, who was 24 of 38 for 241 yards and three touchdowns. A try for two failed and ASU led 21-19.
Josh Jarboe caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Aplin, one where he dove in from the 5 with 4:42 left in the third. Davis made it 28-19.
Chapuseaux's third field goal trimmed the lead to 28-22.
Stockemer's TD came with 11:55 left. Oku, after two USA penalties kept giving the Red wolves another shot, dove in for the two-pointer. That made it 36-22 and gave those still in the stands a little breathing room.
But a 12-pass scoring pass from Metheny to Greg Hollinger and the extra point made it 36-29 with 17 seconds left.