MONROE, LA. – Led by Conner Manning and Penny Hart, Georgia State used a record-setting offensive performance to win its third straight road game and move to 2-0 atop the Sun Belt Conference with a 47-37 victory Saturday evening at ULM.
Manning directed an attack that piled up a school record 670 yards of total offense with Georgia State’s most points ever against an FBS team. The senior quarterback completed 26 of 35 passes for a career-high 446 yards, the second-highest single-game total in school history, and tied the GSU record with four touchdown passes.
Much of Manning’s yardage was to Hart, who set the Georgia State (3-2, 2-0 Sun Belt) record with 190 yards receiving on 11 catches, which ties his own school mark. Hart, who recorded his third straight 100-yard game, caught touchdowns of 50, 25 and 22 yards.
“I can tell you one thing, we’re pleased to death with this win. We never take winning for granted,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “I’m very proud of the effort - our guys fought hard. We made it interesting in the fourth quarter, but we’re 2-0 in the conference, and someone has to come knock us off. We’re going to continue to work to see how good we can be.”
Georgia State also rushed for a season-high 224 yards, despite losing its top two backs to injury. Kyler Neal rushed for 65 yards on 14 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown, and the senior topped the 1,000-yard mark for his career. Demarcus Kirk had 56 yards rushing, and Taz Bateman gained 43 yards before leaving the game.
“Everybody took a turn at running back. Kyler Neal and DeMarcus Kirk came in and gave us a great effort,” Elliott said. “Who knows who’s going to show up at running back next week! Hats off the offensive line, they did a good job of moving their front.”
Sophomore Devin Gentry scored the first two touchdowns of his career on a 69-yard reception and a 15-yard run.
The Panthers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard on their first possession as Hart got a step on his defender down the sideline and made a spectacular one-handed, overhead catch for a 50-yard touchdown, his third of the season.
ULM’s Marcus Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give the Warhawks a brief 7-6 lead, but the Panthers answered immediately. On 3rd-and-4 from the GSU 31, Gentry took a short pass and raced down the left sideline for a 69-yard touchdown, the first of his career and Georgia State’s longest pass of the season. That put the Panthers up 13-7 less than six minutes into the game.
Gentry’s second touchdown came on a reverse play as he took a flip from Bateman and ran around the left side into the end zone for a 15-yard rushing touchdown.
Brandon Wright added a career-long 46-yard field goal, his second of the day, on the final play of the first half to send the Panthers into the locker room with a 26-10 lead.
Hart scored caught two more touchdowns on consecutive possessions in the third quarter as Georgia State extended its lead to 40-17 with more minutes to play in the third quarter. Both were two more highlight-reel catches, covering 25 and 22 yards.
After a ULM touchdown, Georgia State sealed the victory with a 15-play, 95-yard drive that eight up nearly eight minutes on the clock. Neal capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run, and the Panthers led 47-24 with eight minutes to play.
ULM (3-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) managed two touchdowns in the final three minutes for the final 47-31 margin.
“I wasn’t too pleased with the points we spotted them on special teams, and the fourth quarter was a little disappointing, but our defense played well for the most part,” Elliott said.
The Panthers collected a school-record seven sacks, including three by Marterious Allen, which ties the GSU record. Allen, the junior defensive end, also had a fumble recovery. Michael Shaw added 1.5 sacks to become the Panthers' career leader in tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
After four straight road games and 51 days away, Georgia State will finally play at home at Georgia State Stadium next Saturday, Oct. 21, as the Panthers host Troy at 2 p.m. for Homecoming. Visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call 404-413-4020 for tickets to #HomeATLast