Using a ball-control offense and a dominant second-half effort, Georgia State football emerged with a 31-17 home victory over Old Dominion in Sun Belt Conference play at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta.
The Panthers (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) led in time of possession having the ball for 37:10 in the contest. Georgia State also outscored the Monarchs (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) 17-3 in the second half.
“Big win in general,” Panthers’ head coach Shawn Elliott said. “All wins are tough but its good to go out and get one especially on Homecoming. I thought we did a really nice job controlling the game throughout. Very proud of our football team.”
Offensive standouts for Georgia State included senior running back Tucker Gregg who had rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Gregg is now the program’s all-time leading rusher with 2,165 career yards surpassing Tra Barnett who had 2,116 yards from 2016-2019.
Quarterback Darren Grainger passed for 195 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown in the win.
The Panthers outgained the Monarchs 413-283 in total offense. Georgia State gaine 218 yards on the ground in 62 attempts.
Georgia State’s defense had six sacks including two from Thomas Gore. The sack total was one short of the program record in a contest. The 26 rushing yards allowed by Old Dominion is the third-lowest total allowed by the Panthers in program history in a game.
With the score tied 14-14, Georgia State was forced to punt on its first possession of the second half but Old Dominion was penalized for roughing the kicker resulting in an automatic first down for the home team. Luke Lindenfelder was the charged defensive player and the punter was Michael Hayes.
The resulting conclusion of the drive, which included an 11-yard by Grainger on third-and-10, was a one-yard TD run by Grainger to give the Panthers the 21-14 lead at the 5:00 mark of the third quarter.
The Panthers got the ball back deep in ODU territory when Gore forced a fumble on Hayden Wolff’s rushing attempt which was recovered by Javon Dennis. On its first play from scrimmage on the subsequent possession, Marcus Carroll rushed 11 yards to the right side for a touchdown, increasing the lead to 28-14.
Georgia State increased its lead midway through the fourth quarter on Hayes’ 26-yard field goal, ending a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took 10:12 off the clock.
The Monarchs cut the deficit to 31-17 with 4:51 left in regulation on Ethan Sanchez’s 40-yard field goal.
The start of the contest didn’t go the way of Georgia State which was stopped short on a fourth-and-two attempt on its first possession of the contest on one-yard loss rush attempt by Gregg as he was tackled by EJ Green and Jason Henderson.
The Monarchs also turned the ball over on downs in their first possession when Wolff was stopped one yard short of a first down on a three-yard scramble, tackled by Jontrey Hunter.
Old Dominion got on the board first with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Wolff to Javon Harvey midway through the first quarter. Wolff had a game-high 257 passing yards and Harvey caught three passes for a game-high 124 yards in the loss.
Georgia State moved the ball down the field on its next possession but the drive was stalled when after receiving a pass from Grainger, Jay Dixon fumbled the ball which was forced by Robert Kennedy and recovered by Tre Hawkins III at the Monarchs’ seven-yard line.
The Panthers’ defense held firm and forced a punt that was returned 28 yards by Tailique Williams deep in Old Dominion territory. Georgia State was able to get its first score a few plays later on Gregg’s four-yard touchdown run, tying the score 7-7 with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers took a 14-7 lead with 10:04 left in the first half when Grainger connected with Jamari Thrash on a 38-yard touchdown pass down the right side off of play action. Thrash had a team-high 87 receiving yards on three catches.
The Monarchs tied the score 14-14 at the 7:15 mark of the second quarter on Wolff’s 12-yard touchdown pass down the middle to Ali Jennings.
The Panthers once again had a productive drive offensively including on a converted fourth down on an eight-yard catch by Gregg. However, Hayes’ 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Hawkins on their final possession of the first half.
Georgia State outgained Old Dominion 252-191 in total yards through the first two quarters.