Georgia State escapes with last-second win

BUIES CREEK, N.C. -- Olufemi Opanubi has learned the lesson.

"I wouldn't underestimate anybody else ever again," the Georgia State linebacker said. "I don't care where they're from or what their building's like. At the end of the day, football's football."

The difficulty of Opanubi and his teammates to absorb that truth nearly cost the Panthers on Saturday. However, thanks to a steely fourth-quarter performance led by quarterback Drew Little, Georgia State received the moral without the sting. The Panthers evened their record at 2-2 by defeating Campbell 24-21 on a last-second field goal by Iain Vance.

On the first road trip of their inaugural season, the Panthers almost got snared in a trap of their own making. A week after nearly upsetting Jacksonville State, the No. 4 team in FCS (formerly Division I-AA), Georgia State rolled into Buies Creek, a tiny town about 30 miles south of Raleigh surrounded by tobacco and soybean fields. Metal bleachers line Barker-Lane Stadium, which is smaller than many metro Atlanta high schools' stadiums.

"We might have come in a little big-headed," wide receiver Danny Williams said.

Coach Bill Curry and his staff had seen it two weeks ago, when the Panthers fell asleep on tiny Lambuth and lost 23-14 after rolling over Shorter in the opener.

"It was a carbon copy of our second ballgame," offensive coordinator John Bond said.

On offense, ineffective play and turnovers stunted possessions after the Panthers took a 14-7 first-quarter lead. On defense, the Campbell (1-3) offensive line knocked Georgia State around, creating enough room for 257 rushing yards.

"We've got some work to do," Opanubi said. "They were kind of gashing us on the line."

In the second and third quarters, Campbell ran 48 plays to Georgia State's 11 and outgained the Panthers 228-73.

"I don't know if you call it playing to the level of competition or simply having lapses of concentration," Curry said. "Because Campbell didn't look any lesser of a team than Jacksonville State for about 3 1/2 quarters. They knocked the stuffing out of us on both sides of the ball."

Linebacker Mark Hogan's red-zone interception and two missed Campbell field-goal attempts kept the score tied at 14 when Georgia State regained possession with 12:26 to play in the fourth quarter.

Little and running back Travis Evans then drove Georgia State 80 yards for a touchdown for a 21-14 lead. Campbell replied by going 64 yards in six plays to tie the score at 21. Georgia State began its last possession on its own 24 with 3:07 to play. Ten plays later, Vance drilled a 30-yarder with less than one second remaining for the win.

"I'm proud of my guys for one thing, which we've shown every day since we got here, and that is resilience," Curry said. "We will fight back every time."

For the Panthers, at least some lessons don't need teaching.