Georgia State scores first, not again in 41-7 drag

Photo Submitted by Georgia State Athletics

Georgia State (1-1) was unsuccessful in its first road game of the season as they were dominated 41-7 by North Carolina State (2-0). Head coach Shawn Elliott and the Panthers had eight days to prepare for their second game, but nonetheless, North Carolina State was more effective in almost every element.

The Panthers had a multitude of chances to pull closer to the Wolfpack, yet they squandered their opportunities, and it showed in the final score.

“You go into the halftime down 13, but it could have easily been a doggone seven-point ballgame,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “Then in the fourth quarter, the game got a little bit away from us. They’ve got a little more depth at some positions.”

The game did not look to be a blowout in the first moments. Georgia State running back Destin Coates ran in an 8-yard touchdown in less than three minutes to score the game’s first points.

Their pass rush (or lack thereof) was the biggest downfall for the Panthers. They did not record any sacks, a regression from their season opener, where they recorded just one.

A poor pass rush typically causes trouble for defenders in pass coverage, and that certainly seemed to be the case against North Carolina State. Ryan Finley passed for 370 yards and two touchdowns on an 82 percent completion rate, and two Wolfpack receivers gained over 100 yards.

“To tell you the truth, we played sound run defense, but we’ve got to get better pass rush and better coverage,” Elliott said. “We’ve got to get better in all phases of it. This is the typical time when you are going to start getting better.”

When facing most Power 5 opponents as a Group of 5 team, having turnovers can be a death sentence, especially on the road. With one fumble, two missed field goals and two turnovers on downs, Georgia State effectively gave the ball away to North Carolina State five times.

Their game against Memphis can go the same direction if they spoil as many opportunities.

The Memphis Tigers (1-1) have been one of the best Group of 5 programs in the past four seasons, winning 37 games over the span. They blew a 12-point lead to Navy last Saturday, so both teams will look to bounce back.

Taking better care of the ball will be a huge priority for the Tigers after losing three fumbles to Navy. Both Georgia State and Memphis were minus-two in the turnover department last week.

A positive that Memphis will want to take into the game is creating big plays in the running game. Sophomore running back Darrell Henderson had long touchdown runs of 78 and 59 yards.

Luckily for Georgia State, its run defense has been a strength. The Panthers held Kennesaw State and North Carolina State to 181 and 115 rushing yards respectively in their first two games.

Memphis have had more yards of total offense than their opponents in both games, something the Panthers have failed to do once this year.

This is the first ever meeting between the two teams. Memphis canceled its road trip to Georgia State last season due to American Athletic Conference rescheduling.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 14, and the game is the first time Georgia State plays on ESPN in program history.