Georgia State wins Christmas with a 50-21 rout of Ball State

The Georgia State Panthers clinched a program-record eighth win of the year with a 50-21 win over the Ball State Cardinals in the Camelia Bowl.

The Panthers couldn’t do any wrong in Montgomery, and it all began when Jamil Muhhamad sacked Cardinals quarterback Drew Plitt on the first play of the game. From there, the team cruised to their second straight bowl victory, a first for Georgia State’s football program. 

Darren Grainger dazzled with 325 total yards and three touchdowns in his first bowl game appearance. The redshirt sophomore only threw 15 completions, but eight were to Aubry Payne, who closed out his season with eight catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

In the first quarter, Grainger found Payne for an 18-yard touchdown. Almost three minutes later, Javon Davis recovered a fumble and took it 37 yards to pad the Panthers lead 14-7 after the first quarter. A quiet second half saw the two sides trade field goals to notch the score at 20-7 going into halftime.

Then, something clicked for the Panthers. Maybe it was a locker room speech, maybe it was the feeling of the team not playing again until next Fall. Whatever switch they flipped, it worked: Georgia State scored 31 unanswered points until a Ball State touchdown with less than three minutes to play. 

Highlights from the barrage included Noel Ruiz drilling all three of his field goals and six extra points. Antavious Lane, who entered the game with a program-record eight career interceptions, took a 55-yard interception to the house late in the third quarter, which would be the final Georgia State touchdown of the game.

The Panthers offense finished their season with nearly 500 total yards of offense and the defense gave up less than 100 yards in the air. After a season that brought plenty of doubts and questions, head coach Shawn Elliott and his staff did what no other Georgia State team has done before: win consecutive bowl games. Now, they’ve set the standard for football in Atlanta.