Georgia State followed the script. So did its opponent.
For their first fall homecoming, the Panthers invited Morehead State to be their sacrificial lamb.
To the delight of alumni and students, many watching the team for the first time, Georgia State delivered its most thorough performance of its inaugural season, and the visiting Eagles were suitably inferior. The end product was a 37-10 pummeling Saturday at the Georgia Dome, played before 15,624.
The Panthers, who botched and nearly knocked out coach Bill Curry in their first water-cooler dousing at the end of the opener, even successfully drenched their coach.
The team "played about as well as we have played," the soggy coach said.
For the past three weeks, following the rousing opening-night win over Shorter, the Panthers (3-2) played down to inferior opponents (Lambuth, Campbell) or raised their level of play (Jacksonville State). Saturday, they dispatched a team that was not their equal. Georgia State denied Morehead State's passing game, threshed its defense with an efficient passing attack and forced a decisive special-teams turnover.
Georgia State forced Morehead State to go three-and-out on seven of its 15 possessions. The Panthers had forced six three-and-outs in its past three games combined.
"Very fast, very good size, strong football team," Morehead State quarterback Zach Lewis said. "They're going to be a tough team to deal with."
Tight pass coverage and pressure on Lewis forced Morehead State, which entered the game averaging 368.8 yards per game, into an uncomfortable state. The Eagles (2-3) had only 98 yards of offense at halftime, by which point the score was 30-3. For Georgia State, it was a turn from its recent defensive pattern of long drives by the opposition and an inability to stop the run.
"Everybody was on the same page," safety Brandon Jones said. "Everybody knew exactly what to do."
The game turned on an opportunistic special-teams play by wide receiver Nate Anthony, who recovered a fumbled punt by Morehead State's Jaison Yoshimura in the second quarter by plowing him out of the way and securing the ball at the Morehead State 31-yard line. With the score 17-3, Georgia State went from potentially having its lead cut to one possession to going ahead 23-3. The Panthers took two plays to score, as quarterback Drew Little hit tight end Arthur Williams (6-foot-3, 270 pounds), who flattened cornerback John Coleman (5-9, 163) for an 11-yard touchdown reception.
Little was the game's star, completing 21 of 29 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Williams.
"He's a redshirt freshman, but he plays like a fifth-year senior," offensive coordinator John Bond said.
Curry upped the compliment ante.
"Drew Little had one of the best games I can recall a QB having with us at any school," he said. "It was just masterful."
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