It wasn’t quite as bad as having your game canceled 15 minutes before loading the bus, as was the case last week. But throwing a pick-six on the first play isn’t exactly the ideal scenario to start a game. However, Georgia State’s response to the misfortune was perfect.

After spotting East Carolina an instant 7-0 lead, Georgia State came back with four consecutive touchdowns and scored a school-record 35 first-half points on the way to a 49-29 win over the Pirates on Saturday at Center Parc Stadium.

Redshirt freshman Quad Brown, making his second start at quarterback, had his first pass intercepted by Warren Saba and returned for a 28-yard touchdown. Six seconds had ticked off the clock, and the Panthers already were behind 7-0.

Funny thing, no one on the Georgia State sideline flinched. Instead, they responded.

“You start with a pick-six, and no one blinked an eye,” coach Shawn Elliott said. "We come back and score and continue to put the hammer down "

Brown returned and confidently completed his next pass, and took 1:24 to respond with a quick touchdown. Brown was just getting started. He completed eight of his next nine throws and was 12-for-17 passing in the first half with three touchdowns, two to Sam Pinckney and another to Jamari Thrash.

“We knew we had to bounce back,” Pinckney said.

East Carolina was unable to adjust when Georgia State went into its hurry-up mode. The Panthers quickly got to the line to run the next play, often before the Pirates could get in position.

“Tempo is our friend,” Elliott said. “We were on fire in the first half.”

Brown finished the game 18-for-28 with 238 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions. Pinckney caught seven passes for a career-high 134 yards, and Cornelius McCoy caught seven for 59 yards. Destin Coates rushed 23 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

While the Georgia State offense was putting up points, the defense shut down the East Carolina running attack and harassed prolific quarterback Holton Ahlers for four quarters. The Georgia State defense did not allow a point; East Carolina’s three scores came on an interception return, a fake field-goal play and a blocked punt.

The Panthers gave up only 50 yards rushing to East Carolina, which rushed for 244 yards last week against No. 13 Central Florida. It was the fewest yards allowed since a school-record minus-2 against Western Kentucky in the 2017 Cure Bowl. The Panthers had four sacks – 1-1/2 each for Thomas Gore and Quavian White – and nine tackles for loss.

“That was our main goal to keep them under 100 yards,” Georgia State nose guard Dontae Wilson said. “To keep them to 50 yards is unbelievable and a great achievement for our defense.”

Georgia State also had interceptions by White (the fifth of his career), Trajan Stephens-McQueen and Antavioius Lane, whose 34-yard pick-six helped blunt the East Carolina momentum in the third quarter.

“The defense played great,” Elliott said. “We put pressure on them all day long, and it seemed like they had no answer. It was fun to see.”

Ahlers was confined to short throws most of the game. He completed 29 of 50 passes for 242 yards, with Tyler Snead and Blake Proehl each grabbing 11 passes. But East Carolina’s long gain was 31 yards.

Georgia State (1-1) is off this week. The Panthers play again Oct. 15, a Thursday night ESPNU game.

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