Original Free Kick: Atlanta United drops 2-1 home contest to Inter Miami CF (9.19.20)

Atlanta United player Jon Gallagher
Photo credit: Atlanta United Communications

Two first half goals by visiting Inter Miami CF led to a 2-1 victory over Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night. It’s the first road victory of the season for Miami while Atlanta’s winless streak extends to six matches.
Juan Agudelo scored the first goal of the contest for Miami (3-2-7, 11 points) in the second minute. Lewis Morgan crossed a ball that was deflected by multiple Atlanta defenders into the middle of the penalty box, recovered by Agudelo and shot past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan with his right foot.
Atlanta (3-2-7, 11 points) responded with a goal by Jon Gallagher in the fifth minute to tie the score 1-1. George Bello passed the ball to Gallagher in the penalty area and his left-footed shot into the upper-right corner of the net went past Miami goalkeeper Luis Robles. Bello and Jeff Larentowicz were given an assist for the score.
Miami retook the lead in the 11th minute on a header by Brek Shea, making the score 2-1. Rodolfo Pizarro received a throw in from Morgan to the right of the penalty area and crossed his pass into Shea who had a clean shot past Guzan. Pizarro and Morgan each received credit for an assist on the goal.
Miami looked to increase its lead to 3-1 in the 45th minute on a goal by Victor Ulloa but was deemed offside by the sideline official.
Miami outshot Atlanta (10-5) and attempted more corner kicks (3-0) in the first half. Atlanta led in possession 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent through the first 45 minutes.
Atlanta’s best scoring opportunity came in the 69th minute when Robles made a diving save on a Brooks Lennon header to keep the 2-1 lead for Miami.
“We weren’t good enough and unfortunately those moments came quickly and early in the game,” Larentowicz said. “Their counter attack and speed was something we talked about all week and it still bit us on the first goal. They were sharper than us in the second goal and there’s really no excuse on that one.”
Miami outshot Atlanta 10-8 and each team attempted three corner kicks.
“The first issue is that we lost the first goal on the counter attack,” Atlanta interim manager Stephen Glass said. “That’s something we specifically talked about the opportunity to tackle on their half to prevent the counter. That’s something that should be prevented. We didn’t get shots off in the second half. We had a number of crosses but they packed us in.”
Atlanta has now won only one of its last 11 contests.
“Everyone is obviously disappointed,” Larentowicz said. “It’s something we’re not used to. We as a team have to rebound. You have to be humble when you’re winning and stand up when you’re losing. Right now we’re in a tough stretch and lost a couple in a row. As much as you don’t want to look at your mistakes, you can’t do it and have to fight your way out of it.”

Fighting Peaches: Georgia State football falls to Louisiana 34-31 in overtime (9.19.20)

Georgia State football head coach Shawn Elliott
Photo credit: Georgia State Athletics

Elijah Mitchell’s 12-yard touchdown run in overtime gave Louisiana the 34-31 road victory over Georgia State at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta Sept. 19. The Ragin’ Cajuns’ trailed 21-7 in the third quarter of their victory.
Georgia State (0-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) opened its overtime session with a 15-yard field goal by Noel Ruiz to make the score 31-28 before the Cajuns’ (2-0, 1-0 Sun Belt) game-winning drive.
“To play that football game the way we did and have the opportunity to win I’m very proud of the football team,” Panthers’ head coach Shawn Elliott said. “It was a great effort on everyone’s part. I’m most disappointed that we didn’t win that football game and we had every opportunity. Some drives we didn’t capitalize on offensively we should have. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage most of the game. Hats off to them, they’re a good football team.”
Levi Lewis threw for a game-high 279 yards and two touchdowns for Louisiana. Mitchell finished the contest with a game-high 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns including the game-winner.
Panthers’ defender Victor Heyward intercepted Lewis on the Cajuns’ first possession of the second half. Georgia State took advantage of the opportunity as Marcus Carroll scored on a two-yard touchdown run to increase its lead to 21-7 at the 10:49 mark of the third quarter.
Louisiana rebounded with a four-yard touchdown catch by Kyren Lacy from Lewis to cut the deficit to 21-14 midway through the third quarter. Mitchell’s 59-yard touchdown run down the right side tied the score 21-21 for Louisiana later in the quarter.
The Cajuns took their first lead of the contest with 11:54 left in regulation on Trey Ragas’ two-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-21.
Georgia State tied the score at 28-all midway through the fourth quarter at the 7:37 mark on Destin Coates’ four-yard touchdown run. He finished the day with 150 rushing yards on a game-high 34 attempts.
“You have to weather the storm,” Elliott said. “We all have to do that in life and on the football field. They hit us with three gut punches right there but you have to keep playing the game.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cornelius “Quad” Brown’s 12-yard touchdown run at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter gave Georgia State the 6-0 lead in his first career start for the Panthers. He finished the day with a team-high 196 passing yards, 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing.
“They’re weren’t a lot of mistakes made out there by Quad,” Elliott said. “He managed our team very well, took the opportunities when we had the run game in there, and made positive yardage. He’s a redshirt freshman and we’ll all learn from our mistakes. That only makes us better.”
The Panthers increased their lead to 14-0 on Brown’s 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Roger Carter on a wheel route early in the second quarter.
Emani Bailey intercepted Brown’s pass with 3:16 left in the first half for Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajuns got on the board on their subsequent drive on an 18-yard touchdown catch by Chris Smith, making the score 14-7 at the 1:33 mark of the second quarter. The drive included a 19-yard pass from Lewis to Devon Pauley on fourth down to keep possession for Louisiana. Quavian White’s interception of Lewis’ pass stopped Louisiana on its final drive of the first half.
Louisiana outgained Georgia State 519-419 in total yardage.
The contest was the first one for the Panthers’ 2020 season which has been altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previous contests including a home tilt against Murray State Sept. 3 and at Alabama Sept. 12 were cancelled making the Louisiana game the season opener.
“It’s been a real roller coaster with this camp,” Elliott said. “There are a lot of distractions that really could have made this team go south. We’ve got some good leaders and are pleased to see because you don’t know what to expect.”