Courtesy of Georgia State Athletics
ATLANTA - Led by a stellar passing performance from Drew Little and tenacious defense, Georgia State cruised past Morehead State, 37-10, in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. The Panthers' first-ever Homecoming Game resulted in the program's second win over a fellow FCS opponent and third win overall on the season.
Georgia State (3-2) got 287 yards and four touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing from Little, who enjoyed his best game as a Panther. The defense held a previously prolific Morehead State (2-3) offense to just 280 total yards, giving up the only MSU touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
"Drew Little's performance today was just masterful," said GSU head coach Bill Curry. "We are really proud of him. He also has some very good receivers who catch the ball well, even if he does not throw it exactly right sometimes. The o-line grew up today, and we played our most complete game.They got it together and came out and played about as well as we have played. The other key factor is that the defense came to play today in a way they have not this entire year."
Little gave credit to the entire offense.
"What I did today was because of the o-line, the wide-outs, the running backs," he said. "You have got to have the time to get it to the receivers and make a good play."
GSU jumped out to a 30-3 halftime lead, its best scoring output on the season for a single half.
The Panthers struck early with two scoring drives in the first quarter. After forcing a three-and-out on MSU's first possession, Little and company embarked on an eight-play, 56-yard drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Giles, who made his return after missing the last three games with injury. First-down passes to Sidney Haynes and Danny Williams helped set up the score.
On the Panthers' next possession, the offense struck in just over a minute with a three-play, 57-yard scoring drive. On the second play of the drive, Little hit Albert Wilson deep down the sideline for a 42-yard gain, putting the ball at the MSU 4-yard line and setting up Parris Lee's third rushing touchdown of the season on the next play.
Little found 6-foot-3, 270-pound Arthur Williams for his first of two touchdowns with 3:29 remaining in the second quarter. Williams caught the ball near the line of scrimmage at the MSU 11-yard line and dragged an Eagle defender nearly the whole way to the goal line for an impressive score.
Arthur Williams' second touchdown came on a play-action rollout from Little on fourth-and-1 from the MSU 2-yard line with 7:47 to go in the third quarter. Little hit him in stride for the Panthers' final score on the afternoon to make it 37-3. The two receiving scores for the junior college transfer from Miami, Fla., were his first at Georgia State.
Haynes scored his second receiving touchdown on the season with a 12-yard fade route into the end zone with just :17 remaining in the first half. Earlier in the drive, Little found Danny Williams on third-and-14 for an over-the-shoulder, 39-yard reception to the MSU 38-yard line. Danny Williams set career highs with eight catches and 101 yards.
Iain Vance also set a personal best with a 49-yard field goal with 7:55 left in the second quarter. Coming into the game, Vance was perfect on both field goals (5-for-5) and extra points (13-for-13), but missed a 43-yard FG attempt and one extra point on the afternoon. The career-long kick was set up by an MSU fumble that was recovered at the Eagles' 35-yard line by Brandon Jones.
Travis Evans was the Panthers' leading rusher with 62 yards on eight carries.
The Panther defense turned in a great statistical performance in picking up four turnovers, a season high, and limiting Morehead State, known for its pass-heavy attack, to just 50 net yards rushing. GSU recovered two fumbles - one by Jones and another by Nate Anthony on a muffed MSU punt, both in the second quarter - and gathered in two interceptions. Linebacker Brad Chahoy picked off Lewis in the third quarter, and cornerback Demarius Matthews grabbed an errant MSU pass with :52 left in the game.
"Coach [John] Thompson, [Anthony] Midget, [Jason] French and [Chris] Ward spent many, many hours evaluating route systems and protections," Curry said. "I think they had such a marvelous plan.
"Our young defensive backs are growing up and our veteran defensive backs are redshirt freshmen."
The Eagles got a 27-yard field goal from Rainer Duzan in the first quarter, then found the end zone when Zach Lewis passed to Jaison Yoshimura for a 23-yard score with 11:20 left in the game.
Quarterback Star Jackson saw his first snaps of the season against Morehead State. The Alabama transfer, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound redshirt sophomore, had a rough game with two interceptions. Kelton Hill also directed the offense for a series late in the fourth quarter.
Georgia State held the ball for 32:25 in the game to win its first advantage in time of possession on the season.
A crowd of 15,264 attended Georgia State's fourth home game of the season and first-ever Homecoming. The Panthers next play on Saturday, Oct. 9, in the Georgia Dome against FCS Savannah State.