Georgia State (2-2) defeated Coastal Carolina (1-4) 27-21, during both teams’ first Sun Belt game of the season. This was the first meeting between the two schools.
The Panther offense that found its’ groove against Charlotte two weeks ago did not touch the field on their first possession. Glenn Smith returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. While running towards the right sideline, Smith slowed to a complete stop to change direction and burned the Chanticleers’ special teams unit.
Coastal Carolina moved the ball down the field with ease on the first drive of the game, but Georgia State’s defense held their own and forced a missed 21-yd field goal attempt by Evan Rabon. In response, Georgia State put together an efficient drive spanning nearly five minutes, capped off by a seven-yard Penny Hart touchdown reception from Conner Manning.
Hart, who caught four passes for 49 yards on the possession, was a clear focal point of Coach Shawn Elliott’s game plan tonight. Hart finished with 132 yards on eight receptions and one score. Manning threw for 273 yards and one touchdown.
After a stalled drive by each team, Coastal Carolina made the game 14-7 on a 35-yard post route from Tyler Keane to Omar Black. Coastal Carolina’s star receiver Malcolm Williams just five receptions for 55 yards, after he exploded for 266 against UL-Monroe last Saturday Later in the half, the Chanticleers blasted Manning on a third down blitz, but the pass was completed for a 17-yard gain by Tamir Jones.
Manning, mobile than usual on Saturday night, scrambled for a first down inside the five-yard line. The scamper set up a seven-yard touchdown run by Kyler Neal with 2:26 remaining in the half.
The Panthers had another scoring opportunity, but Manning’s Hail Mary was intercepted with no time remaining in the half, the only turnover of the game.
The first half featured a “bend but don’t break defense”, but the Panthers set a tone when they immediately forced Coastal Carolina’s third three-and-out after the break, their third of four on the day.
Elliott chewed his team out for some sloppy play following a Coastal Carolina turnover on downs. He did not let up when the offense failed to punch it in and Brandon Wright missed a 25-yard field goal.
Georgia State’s defense showed the first-year Sun Belt Chanticleers FBS speed on defense once again the following drive. Outside linebacker, James Traylor sacked Tyler Keane on third down for his first of the year.
Elliott met with the team after the scoreless third quarter, in what appeared to be a speech emphasizing to finish strong. With their four fourth quarter fingers in the air, the Panthers jumped around as if they thought Coastal Carolina’s home field was Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium.
Georgia State virtually enjoyed every drive with good field position until a personal foul pushed them back to Coastal Carolina’s 12-yard line. The Chanticleers experienced Georgia State’s luxury of the day after Oliver Holdenson punt out-of-bounds was marked at the Panthers’ 48.
Keane hit Chris Jones for a 22-yard gain on the next play, Coastal Carolina’s brightest spark of the second half. Shortly afterwards, Keane found Tyler for a quick touchdown pass, cutting the lead to seven points once again. Glenn Smith electrified the quiet Georgia State running game with runs of eight and 12 on the following drive, but Mackey Award Watch List tight end, Ari Werts made the most important play of the game. Werts slipped past the Chanticleers’ linebackers and secondary for a 52-yd reception and placed Georgia State just yards outside the redzone.
Werts appeared to be injured, but completed the the game to finish with 92 yards. Demarcus Kirk crossed the goaline on a four-yard rush, however Brandon Wright missed the extra point, leaving a point on the board. Coastal Carolina scored a touchdown with 1:11 remaining, to make matters a 21-27 game.
Georgia State recovered the ensuing onside kick, and ran Glenn Smith three consecutive times until he picked up a first down, ending any possible comeback from the Chanticleers. Smith finished with 201 all-purpose yards and one touchdown. Georgia State faces UL-Monroe next week, the last of a four-game road game.
After watching Malcolm Williams of Coastal Carolina put up astronomical numbers against UL-Monroe’s secondary, Elliott and company could look to exploit the Warhawks with Penny Hart. The kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. and is broadcasted on ESPN3.