Panthers Can't Hold On Late, Fall 17-13 to App State
Photo: Jordan Crawford for THERSdayNight.com
Georgia State (3-4, 2-4 in Sun Belt) started strong but couldn’t quite keep up with the Appalachian State Mountaineers (6-1, 4-0 in Sun Belt), falling 17-13 in Boone, NC. After being held to 3 points and 41 rushing yards in the first half, the Mountaineers grinded out two touchdowns on 90 rushing yards and the Panthers couldn’t keep up. Georgia State was outscored 14-3 in the second half, and after a decent offensive performance in the first half, couldn’t move the ball well enough against the Mountaineers. Conversely, the Mountaineers found just enough on offense to keep the Panthers at bay and used their vaunted secondary to prevent the Panthers passing game from ever getting going.
The Panthers weren’t without their chances in the second half. The Panthers used a 9-play, 60 yard drive at the start of the 4th quarter that ended in a Noel Ruiz 32-yard FG that would give them the 13-10 lead with 12:29 remaining. Georgia State’s defense came up big on the ensuing possession and forced a Mountaineer three-and-out. With the ball on their own 21-yard line, the Panthers could only muster 2 yards before consecutive Roger Carter drops would force them to punt. The Mountaineers then orchestrated an 11-play, 77 yard drive which culminated in the go-ahead touchdown, and knocked out their starting QB Zac Thomas for the remainder of the game. Georgia State was given another opportunity to score and potentially win the game, but as it had for much of the second half the offense couldn’t move the ball and after a Michael Hayes punt, that was all she wrote.
Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott had high praise for the Panthers’ defensive performance, calling the Panthers defensive effort “tremendous”, specifically highlighting the play of the Panthers’ front seven. Elliott had this to say: “They played their tails off. You look at those guys up front…maybe until the last series, their longest run wasn’t over 15 yards. Our front guys did a great job. Dontae, Hardrick, [Jordan Strachan] and all those guys. And our linebackers, Blake Carroll, Trajan [Stephens-McQueen]. It was a tough physical game. They were trying to establish the run…it was just a great competition between the two.”
Georgia State started the game as they often have this season with a long and effective touchdown drive. On their opening drive, the Panthers converted three 3rd downs, including a long 3rd-and-14 completion to Cornelius McCoy which would set up a 19-yard Sam Pinckney TD and give the Panthers the early 7-0 lead. The Mountaineers would punt on their opening drive, but after Destin Coates fumble in Panthers’ territory, App State capitalized on the short field, settling for a field goal after moving the ball better than their previous drive. Both teams would trade punts and turnovers on downs, but just before halftime and staring at a 3rd-and-13 with under a minute remaining, Tucker Gregg rumbled his way to a 48-yard run to give the Panthers life just before the break. It seemed as if the Panthers were destined for the endzone, as Quad Brown hit Jamari Thrash two plays later for a 21-yard gain and gave the Panthers first and goal. The Panthers were forced to settle for a Noel Ruiz 23-yard FG and went into halftime up 10-3.
It was not an afternoon to write home about for the Panthers’ young starting QB. Quad Brown finished the game with 11 completions on 33 attempts and only 152 yards through the air. His only touchdown was the Pinckney score on the opening drive of the game and that was also the only touchdown the Panthers would score on the day. Gregg was the star on the ground for GSU, rumbling his way to 85 rushing yards. The Panthers’ struggles with ball security continued, as they fumbled four times, although the Mountaineers were only able to recover one of them. Coates did return to the game after his early fumble and finished with a season-low 43 yards on the ground.
The Panthers will head to Mobile, Alabama next week to face the South Alabama Jaguars. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm EST and the game can be seen nationally on ESPNU.