Panthers Can’t Overcome Errors, Lose to Wyoming in Arizona Bowl
Georgia State (7-6) was made to pay for mistakes and missed opportunities as the Wyoming Cowboys (8-5) took care of business to win the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl 38-17 on New Year’s Eve 2019. The lead ballooned to as high as the final margin after a close-fought opening quarter. Though the Panthers were given ample chances to cut into the deficit, the Cowboys closed out strong. The Wyoming defense forced two turnovers on down in the red zone late to clinch the victory, winning eight games for the third time in coach Craig Bohl’s tenure. Dan Ellington ran for 70 yards and a score and went 13-26 passing for 156 yards in his final game as a Panther. Wyoming QB Levi Williams made plays when they mattered in his first career start, throwing for 234 yards and scoring four total touchdowns.
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Panthers, marching down the field in six plays – five of them runs – and punching it in on a 4-yard Dan Ellington run to take first blood. Wyoming was able to follow up with a long drive into Georgia State territory before stalling out and having to settle for a Cooper Rothe 53-yard field goal. Georgia State tried to unlock the passing game the next drive, resulting in three incompletions and a three-and-out on offense. Still, the defense stood up and forced a missed 46-yard field goal attempt from Rothe and the Panthers held onto their slim lead.
Things went sideways for the Panthers for the rest of the half. The Panthers stayed true to form and got aggressive, going for a 4th-and-1 from their own 38. They failed to convert after Ellington’s shovel pass to Tra Barnett fell incomplete, giving Wyoming prime field position. The Cowboys capitalized on the short field and QB Levi Williams threw the first of his three first-half touchdowns, finding Austin Conway from 11 yards out to give Wyoming their first lead of the afternoon. The next play on offense for Georgia State, Ellington forced a throw into coverage and safety Alijah Halliburton made him pay with an interception return deep into the Panther red zone. Williams struck again – this time to RB Xazavian Valladay – and the Wyoming lead jumped to 17-7.
Georgia State answered the adversity with their longest drive of the half, 13 plays and six minutes off the clock, and cut the deficit back to one score with a Brandon Wright 25-yard field goal. The defense got their first stop of the game in the form of a Quavian White interception and were in position to make things even again before the half. However, their next drive stalled after an injury to Ellington and the following Wyoming drive – which would have ended in a punt until a roughing the kicker penalty extended it – led to a back-breaking score into the half after blown coverage and bad tackling allowed Williams to find Ayden Eberhardt for a wild 51-yard touchdown.
The Panther defense was able to come out of the half and force an all-important stop, only for the offense to stall out shy of midfield and punt it back to Wyoming. On their second drive of the half, Wyoming found pay dirt. A Valladay catch over the middle went for 63 yards, down to the 1-yard-line, after busted coverage left him wide open. The sophomore running back finished off the drive he sprung open on the next play and the Panthers were in the danger zone, down three scores in the middle of the 3rd quarter.
Georgia State was able to get an immediate answer to their largest deficit of the game – scoring in two plays after Cornelius McCoy’s 44-yard touchdown reception – and the defense got a stop to give the offense a chance to cut it back to a one-score game. But the run was short-lived. The Panthers stalled out on offense and the defense allowed another long play on the ensuing Wyoming drive, a 62-yard Valladay run, and Williams called his own number on a quarterback run to push the Cowboys’ lead to 38-17. Despite recovering two Wyoming fumbles, the Panthers could not get back in the end zone, stalling inside the Wyoming red zone twice in the fourth quarter and failing to come away with an improbable win.
Georgia State finishes the 2019 season at 7-6, tying a program-high for wins. Stay locked into THERSdayNight.com for all news and updates regarding 2020 ‘Thers football.