Georgia State football’s second Sun Belt matchup of the season ended similar to their game against New Mexico State in Week two—with a 34-31 loss on Saturday night.
This time, the team responsible for the Panthers’ loss was the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, the team that was a runaway pick to win the Sun Belt Conference this season.
The first offensive series for Georgia State actually started with Ronnie Bell in at quarterback instead of Nick Arbuckle. The drive would take the Panthers to the Cajuns’ 30-yard line before penalties and loss of yards forced them to punt on their opening series.
Louisiana Lafayette did turn its opening drive into points when Elijah McGuire rushed 54-yards for a touchdown. The ensuing extra point from Hunter Stover was good for a 7-0 Cajuns lead.
The ensuing Panthers possession appeared as if it would end with a three and out before Wil Lutz converted a fake punt attempt into a 26-yard rush for a first down.
Arbuckle was back in at quarterback and the offense would tie the game with a three-yard run from Marcus Caffey, who was in the game at runningback. The ensuing Lutz extra point tied it up at seven.
Two Georgia State possessions later, midway through the second quarter, Arbuckle would complete passes of over 20-yards to Lynquez Blair and Joel Ruiz. The score would once again be provided by Caffey as his converted a 12-yard carry into six points for a 14-7 Panthers lead.
Nine plays and 84-yards into the following Cajuns possession, quarterback Terrance Broadway would connect with Jamal Robinson for a 19-yard completion for a touchdown. This tied the game again at 14.
Georgia State began its next drive with over a minute to go in the half with decent field position at their own 44-yard line. Arbuckle completed passes to Ruiz and Davis to bring the Panthers to the Louisiana-Lafayette 31-yard line. A 48-yard field goal attempt from Lutz was good to give the Panthers a 17-14 lead at halftime commenced.
The Cajuns would have the ball to start the second half, and it included a 25-yard run from Broadway. Louisiana-Lafayette would hit paydirt courtesy of an Alonzo Harris one-yard touchdown run. This allowed the Cajuns to retake the lead at 21-17.
A pair of Georgia State possessions later, Arbuckle found Donovan Harden for 62- yards to bring the Panthers to the one-yard line of the Cajuns. The play was reviewed to see if Harden had actually reached the end zone, but the officials confirmed that it was just short.
It appeared as if the Louisiana-Lafayette defense would engineer a goal line stand to make the Panthers settle for three, but Caffey’s one-yard run on third and goal ensured that the Panthers would score six. Georgia State regained the lead at 24-21.
The Cajuns responded with six of their own on their next drive. The final play of the third quarter was a big play for Louisiana-Lafayette as McGuire went 20-yards to the Panthers’ 34-yard line.
Almost four minutes into the fourth quarter, Harris converted on a one-yard run for a touchdown on what was the third consecutive run play where the ball was handed off to him. The Cajuns went ahead 28-24.
The next drive began in inauspicious fashion for the Panthers. An illegal block in the back by A.J. Kaplan forced Georgia State into a 1st and 22 predicament.
Arbuckle and the offense needed 22-yards, but mustered 36 as he found Joel Ruiz to midfield from the 13-yard line. That would then translate into a ten play, 75-yard drive lasting over four minutes into Caffey’s third touchdown of the game as the Panthers regained the lead 31-28.
The ensuing Louisiana-Lafayette drive would occur with Brooks Haack at quarterback instead of Broadway. The offense converted on a pair of third downs with Haack taking the snaps, including a 22-yard strike to Al Riles that moved the chains to the Georgia State 21-yard line.
The play also had to be reviewed and was confirmed. On the next play, Broadway would return to take the snaps and would find Robinson for his second touchdown of the game as the Cajuns went ahead 34-31.
Arbuckle and the Georgia State offense would have one final chance to win the game as they began their final drive with over three minutes remaining.
Arbuckle completed passes of eight and 30-yards to Caffey and Blair, respectively, but both were wiped off the board because of illegal formation penalties on the offense.
This forced 2nd and 12 from the Panthers’ 23-yard line. Arbuckle completed to Davis to bring up 3rd and 6. The following play was incomplete and intended for Davis.
After a Georgia State timeout, Arbuckle completed a 4th and 6 pass to Davis, but he was stopped short of first down yardage.
The Cajuns ran out the clock en route to the 34-31 victory.
For Louisiana-Lafayette Broadway completed 20 of his 26 passes for 216-yards and two touchdowns. McGuire had six carries for 91-yards and a touchdown. Robinson, in addition to his two touchdowns, had eight completions for 119-yards.
Arbuckle completed 19 of his 27 passes for 276-yards. Caffey had a huge game with 27 carries, 96-yards and three touchdowns. Harden finished with four receptions for 91-yards.
Georgia State will hit the gridiron next on homecoming Saturday as they face the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 2 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. The game will also be broadcast on radio by WRAS-FM 88.5 and WIFN-AM 1340 the Fan 3.
ESPN3 will also broadcast the game.