Georgia State football drops contest to Air Force Academy

Georgia State quarterback Nick ArbucklePhoto credit: Jason Getz Photography
Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle
Photo credit: Jason Getz Photography

By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor

The Georgia State football team dropped its home contest at the Georgia Dome on Saturday to Air Force, 48-38.

“It was a battle and they found a way to get it done,” Georgia State coach Trent Miles said. “Our expectation is to win every game that we play…we did not get that done today.”

As expected, the Falcons (2-1) used their rushing attack to pace the offense which produced 315 rushing yards on 65 attempts.

“Tough scheme to go up against and prepare for in a very short amount of time,” Miles said. “Its hard to give up 48 points and win a football game but our kids kept battling over and over again. I know our defense is not really happy about giving up as many points as they did.”

However, the Panthers outgained the Falcons by 10 yards, posting 549 total yards which was the second-most in school history. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle set a school-record with 414 passing yards on 26 completions and two touchdowns.

“You go out and score 38 points at home and throw for over 400 yards,” Miles said. “That was one of the top five or six teams in the nation on defense against the rush and we put up 135 yards against them. I thought our kids played well in spots and we ran out of time.”

Georgia State (1-2) played from behind the entire contest, trailing 14-0 after the end of the first quarter.

Air Force scored on its first possession of the game on a two-yard touchdown run by Jacobi Owens, giving the Falcons a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. Owens finished the contest with a game-high 122 yards rushing on 25 attempts.

The Panthers drove the ball down to the Air Force 20 yard line and went for it on fourth and one on their next possession. However, fullback Jonathan Lytle’s run up the middle was short and Georgia State turned the ball over on downs.

Air Force increased their lead to 14-0 with a 37-yard touchdown catch by Garrett Brown midway through the first quarter. Brown had two touchdown catches in the game.

Georgia State cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter on a bruising 25-yard touchdown run by Kyler Neal, breaking multiple tackles en route to the end zone. It was Neal’s first-career touchdown and he finished the game with a team-high 80 yards rushing on 10 carries.

After a Panthers’ turnover, Owens scored his second rushing touchdown of the contest, this one from seven yards, to make the score 21-7.

Kale Pearson’s one-yard touchdown run with 4:21 left in the second quarter increased Air Force’s lead to 28-7. He had a team-high 224 yards passing and two touchdowns in the victory.

Both teams traded field goals to end the half as the Falcons took a 31-10 lead into the locker room.

Air Force outgained Georgia State in total yards 361-223 through the first two quarters.

Trailing 31-10 at halftime, Georgia State scored its first points of the second half on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Arbuckle to LynQuez Blair at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter.

Arbuckle’s one-yard touchdown run for Georgia State late in the third quarter made the score 38-24.

Blair’s second touchdown catch of the game came with 10:34 left in the contest, this one from 13 yards, but the Panthers still trailed 45-31.

The closest Georgia State got to Air Force in the second have was with 4:57 to go when a 73-yard reception by Neal got the Panthers down to the two-yard line. On the next play Duvall Smith scored on a TD run, making the score 48-38.

Post-game notes:

-Saturday’s contest was the highest-scoring game in Georgia State history with 86 combined points. The previous record was 80 points in GSU’s contest against Old Dominion (ODU 53, GSU 27) contest in 2012.

-Neal’s 73-yard catch was the seventh longest play from scrimmage in school history and the sixth longest pass play.

-Linebacker Joseph Peterson’s 200th career tackle came on a special teams play and broke the school record originally set by Robert Ferguson. He finished  with game-high 13 total tackles on the day and has 207 tackles in his three-year Panther career.

-TE Joel Ruiz and WR Donovan Harden each finished with at least 9- yards receiving (95 and 90, respectively), marking the second time in three games this year a pair of Panther receivers had at least 90 yards through the air.

-PK Will Lutz recorded his 100th career point during the contest and now has 102 points for his career. He trails only Albert Wilson who owns the school record with 156 points.

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