Panthers Get Important Bounceback Win Over ULM
WR Cornelius McCoy celebrates a Roger Carter touchdown in the 2019 contest versus South Alabama. McCoy’s triumphant return to play in today’s game included 7 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Photo: Jordan Crawford for THERSdayNight.com
Georgia State (3-3, 2-3 in Sun Belt) responded after last week’s disappointing 51-0 loss to Coastal Carolina emphatically, pounding ULM (0-8, 0-5 in Sun Belt) 52-34. The Panthers took a 21-0 lead with the help of two early ULM turnovers and never looked back, taking a 42-14 halftime lead and never letting the game within 18 points after that. Quarterback Quad Brown got back on track after the worst start of his young career last Saturday. The freshman from Birmingham, Alabama went 20-32 through the air for 241 yards and had four total touchdowns. Junior RB Destin Coates led the balanced rushing attack with 102 yards and two touchdowns. On his return from injury, WR Cornelius McCoy lifted the Georgia State offense with seven catches for 118 yards and scored his first two touchdowns of 2020. For ULM, Jeremy Hunt came off the bench in relief of starting QB Colby Suits and put together a fine day, throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
On the good team win, Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said, “To get a conference win right here at home, the way we opened up the game, took control of it… Really had the game in control for all of the day.” Though he pointed to “a couple blunders in there that kind of let some confidence gain back in them, in ULM, for whatever reason,” he was also quick to add, “So many times, you can take wins for granted. You gotta enjoy them, you gotta celebrate them, you gotta understand it’s tough. For our guys to go do it, I’m very proud of them.”
The impact of McCoy’s return was felt from the first play from scrimmage. Quad Brown connected with McCoy for a 57-yard gain and the Panthers were in the red zone after just one snap. Five plays later, Quad found TE Roger Carter in the flat, who took it in the rest of the way for the 4-yard TD to open the scoring. Shortly after, the first big mistake of the game went the Panthers’ way. After forcing a Georgia State three-and-out on their next possession, ULM’s defense had to get right back on the field when Michael Hayes’ rugby punt was muffed and then recovered by long snapper Seth Glausier at the ULM 37. Just like that, the Panthers offense was in business and quickly made it a two-score game when Quad called his number for the 3-yard score. What was shaping up to be a bad afternoon for the Warhawks got worse when Hardrick Willis came untouched around the edge to strip-sack ULM QB Colby Suits. When Dontae Wilson fell on the loose ball, Georgia State started their second straight drive deep in Warhawks territory. Brown and McCoy linked up again – this time for Cornelius’s first TD reception of the season – and it was a 21-0 GSU lead with 5:16 left in the 1st quarter.
On the fast start, Coach Elliott noted the positive energy from his team all week and said, ”To open it up like that was very pleasing because we had played so poorly the week before. So to bounce back… A lot of teams could have dragged their heads and could’ve felt sorry for themselves all week and looked in the rear-view mirror, but we pushed forward, we put it behind us and we came out and executed.”
Backup QB Jeremy Hunt came in for ULM at that point and led them on their best drive of the day, 75 yards on 11 plays, and the Warhawks dented the scoreboard for the first time on the afternoon when Perry Carter took a 4-yard end-around sweep into the end zone. The Panthers, though, matched it with an 11-play drive of their own that ended with McCoy’s second touchdown of the half and the three-score lead was restored at 28-7. The Georgia State defense got its third turnover of the half when Bryquice Brown intercepted an underthrown Suits pass and the offense had their third drive starting on ULM’s side of the 50. After a Terrance Dixon catch over the middle netted 32 yards down to the 3, Destin Coates punched it in and Georgia State had a 35-7 lead.
Trickeration from both teams came as the half winded to a close. ULM broke out a flea flicker executed to perfection when Hunt launched the ball into the arms of Perry Carter for the 50-yard touchdown score, Carter’s second of the game. On the next GSU drive Coach Elliott saw ULM coach Matt Viator’s flea flicker and raised him a fake punt option run on a 4th-and-3 near midfield. TE Aubry Payne played the part of the QB, S Chris Moore took the pitch and ran 32 yards inside the ULM red zone. After another Quad-to-McCoy connection set up the Panthers on the 1, Destin Coates made it a program-high 42 first-half points for Georgia State with his second rushing touchdown of the game and the Panthers took a 28-point lead to the break.
Hunt remained something of a steadying force for the ULM offense in relief in the second half. After the teams traded three-and-outs, Hunt led the Warhawks on the first scoring drive of the half, punctuated by a 19-yard Kadyn Roach touchdown run. Georgia State answered with a protracted 13-play drive that took 5:36 off the clock and ended with a 21-yard Noel Ruiz field goal to restore the four-score lead. ULM hit their best stretch of the game when they marched down to score a touchdown on offense to cut the deficit to 45-27 with 14:55 remaining in the game and then forced and recovered a Tucker Gregg fumble on defense the following drive. The Warhawks had a golden opportunity to cut it to a two-score game again, but a big 3rd-down sack from freshman LB Marcus Anderson backed up them up – and when Hunt’s 4th-and-11 throw for TE Josh Pederson fell incomplete, the Panthers came out unscathed from the turnover. After the turnover on down, the Georgia State offense put the game on ice. After a 35-yard Destin Coates run set the Panthers up in the red zone, Marcus Carroll took it in from 5 yards out for the score that matched the team’s season high. Perry Carter got his third touchdown of the game to take the game to its final margin with 6:44 left, but it was too little, too late for the Warhawks.
Georgia State treks up to the mountains of Boone, NC next, facing Appalachian State next Saturday, November 14. Kickoff from Kidd Brewer Stadium is at 2:30pm and the game is viewable on ESPN+.