Dismal second half eliminates Georgia State from bowl contention

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

The Georgia State football team followed one of its best first halves of the season Saturday with one of its worse halves.

The Panthers led 34-14 at halftime, but allowed 28 consecutive points and were beaten 42-40 by James Madison on Saturday in Harrisonburg, Va. The loss, the second consecutive for GSU, drops the Panthers to 4-7 and doused their hopes of becoming bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season.

“It’s hard to think about right now,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “You sit here and wonder about what changes in a 20-minute period and halftime to come out and be so flat and not execute. The last thing I said going out of the locker room right before the half was you can’t play not to lose, that we had to go out and win this game in the second half. And it certainly didn’t look like it.”

Despite the poor second half, the Panthers still had a chance to send the game to overtime. Marcus Carroll scored on an 8-yard run with 2:30 left, but the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, and the Panthers could not get the ball back.

“The play just didn’t go our way,” Elliott said. “So here we are. It’s a disappointing night.”

After falling behind 7-0, Georgia State got a pair of field goals from Michael Hayes and two scoop-and-scores by the defense. The first one came when Tyler Gore sacked James Madison quarterback Todd Centeio, and Javon Denis recovered and ran 21 yards for the score. The second came when Bryquice Brown caused a fumble, and Gordon Terrell picked it up and ran 51 yards for a score.

Even when James Madison scored to make the score 27-14, the Panthers answered on the next play when Jamari Thrash took a flip pass from Darren Grainger and ran for a 75-yard touchdown that put GSU ahead 34-14 at the half.

Georgia State had no success in the second half. The Panthers had to punt on their first three possessions, and Grainger lost a fumble that led to a James Madison touchdown.

“They have a very good defensive front,” Elliott said. “We were searching a little bit, but couldn’t get our bearings. Without watching the film, I can’t give a good description of what they did, but they just out-executed us on the defensive front.”

Grainger completed 8 of 15 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown and ran 11 times for 31 yards and one touchdown. Carroll had 13 carries for 35 yards and one touchdown, and Tucker Gregg ran 13 times for 15 yards. Thrash caught four passes for 138 yards and one touchdown.

The Georgia State defense was led by linebacker Jordan Veneziale with 11 tackles. The Panthers produced three sacks, nine tackles for loss, two hurries and forced two fumbles.

Centeio, an all-conference candidate, completed his first 15 throws and finished 21-for-27 passing for 274 yards and four touchdowns.

Georgia State will finish its season next week against Marshall in Huntington, W.Va.