Panthers Flatten Hilltoppers, Win 2020 LendingTree Bowl 39-21
Quad Brown led the Georgia State attack, going 16/30 for 232 yards with 3 TDs, as well as 40 yards on the ground. Photo: Todd Drexler/Sideline Sports
The Georgia State Panthers (6-4, 4-4 in Sun Belt) defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-7, 4-3 in C-USA) 39-21 in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl. The Panthers used a relentless offensive attack and timely defense to stop the Hilltoppers in their tracks and come away champions of the LendingTree Bowl. With the win, the Panthers improved their program bowl record to 2-2 and Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott improved his Georgia State bowl record to 2-1.
Georgia State made quick work of the Hilltoppers, getting out to a 27-7 halftime lead which would never really be tested. Western Kentucky scored a TD on their opening drive of the 2nd half as Hilltoppers RB Gaej Walker found the end zone from 2 yards out after an 8-play 64-yard drive. Georgia State would answer the Hilltoppers’ score with two Noel Ruiz field goals of 45 and 29 yards respectively, and later a Mikele Colasurdo touchdown to Cadarrius Thompson which would push the game even further out of reach. Western Kentucky found the end zone one final time, but the game was all but decided at that point.
The Panthers were led offensively by redshirt freshman QB Quad Brown, who finished the day going 15 of 29 for 226 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception. Destin Coates was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 117 yards on the ground. Jam Williams made his first appearance since the South Alabama game, tallying 45 yards on the ground and taking the lion’s share of the second half touches. Quad added 40 yards on the ground to help push the Panthers to 227 total rushing yards. The freshman from Birmingham, AL came away with the 2020 LendingTree Bowl MVP award for his performance.
The Hilltoppers were led on offense by grad transfer Tyrrell Pigrome. Pigrome finished the game completing 17 of his 33 passes for 180 yards and 2 interceptions, his first and second of the season. Pigrome added 9 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Behind him, CJ Jones and Gaej Walker led the Hilltoppers with 57 and 31 rushing yards respectively. Western Kentucky finished the day with 104 yards on the ground. Josh Simon was Pigrome’s preferred target, hauling in 4 passes for 84 yards. Western Kentucky struggled to move the ball effectively against the Panthers, finishing with 284 yards.
In the first half, the Panthers and Hilltoppers both started slowly, but after an ill-advised end zone interception thrown by Brown squandered Georgia State’s first opportunity, Western Kentucky took over and found their offensive rhythm. Tyrrell Pigrome capped off a 14-play, 80-yard drive, which saw the Hilltoppers convert on a 4th-and-9 from the GSU 37, with a 2-yard touchdown run to open the scoring. After Destin Coates tied the game with an 11-yard score, the defense held and the offense got right back to work. Quad Brown found Sam Pinckney for a 26-yard score and the Panthers had their first lead of the afternoon. Freshman safety Antavious Lane took sole possession of the team lead with his fourth interception, a diving effort which ended a burgeoning WKU drive. The Georgia State offense turned the turnover into points with a 13-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard Jamari Thrash touchdown catch. On the first play from scrimmage after Thrash’s score made it 21-7, Jontrey Hunter picked off Pigrome for the second Panther interception in as many defensive snaps. The Panthers took advantage again right at the end of the half when Quad hit Cornelius McCoy over the middle for an 8-yard score to complete the 27-0 run.
Georgia State ends the 2020 season with a 6-4 record, a second consecutive winning season for the first time in school history and the third winning season in Coach Elliott’s four seasons in charge. Keep it locked to THERSdayNight.com for all our continuing Georgia State football coverage as we look ahead to the 2021 season, which gets underway when Army comes to Center Parc Stadium on September 4.