Georgia State gets first home win in nearly 15 months

Photo by Randy Wilson | Georgia State Athletics
Photo by Randy Wilson | Georgia State Athletics

Georgia State defeated South Alabama 24-10 on Nov. 21 in the Georgia Dome. South Alabama’s lone touchdown was set up by Xavier Johnson’s 61-yard opening kickoff return that placed the Jaguars on the 31 for their first offensive play.

After a field goal that gave South Alabama a 10-0 first quarter lead, the Panthers would shut the Jaguars out for the rest of the game.

“It’s the best performance we’ve had on defense,” head coach Trent Miles said. “It’s also the most experienced group we’ve had on defense…the good news is we have two games to improve and almost all of those guys are returning next year.”

Among the defensive standouts who will return next season is sophomore Chandon Sullivan, who dropped a couple of potential interceptions against South Alabama.

Quarterback Nick Arbuckle had another memorable performance as he threw for 311 yards and broke his own Georgia State single season record for passing yardage. The yards, this week, came in a different way than past weeks. The longest passing play was completed to Penny Hart for 31 yards as the South Alabama defense adjusted to the Panthers deep ball reputation.

“Everybody looked at us as a one trick pony,” Arbuckle said. “That we [could] only score with big plays.”

The average scoring drive for Georgia State lasted six minutes and 24 seconds and dominated the time of possession battle in the third quarter, keeping possession for nearly 13 minutes in the quarter.

For a second consecutive week, the returns of Kyler Neal and Taz Bateman added the depth at running back, which gave the offense another option on the day. Glenn Smith led all rushers with 46 yards, while Bateman and Neal contributed 16 and 11 yards, respectively.

The home team wore the road white jerseys against South Alabama, as all three prior wins in the season have come on the road. Coach Miles downplayed any superstition in the situation and said execution, not jerseys, is the explanation for the team’s winning streak. Whether the team would be wearing them again their next home game, Miles said that would be up to the seniors.

The next game for the Panthers will be a Black Friday matchup against Troy, at 2 p.m. in the Georgia Dome for the last home game of the season. As far as Thanksgiving hangovers go, Arbuckle sounded confident turkey won’t be a problem come game time..

Photo by Randy Wilson | Georgia State Athletics
Photo by Randy Wilson | Georgia State Athletics

“I’m more of a stuffing guy…I like turkey better as leftovers, when I can be creative of what to do with it,” Arbuckle said.