ATLANTA – In its first home game in a month, Georgia State fell to Appalachian State 31-10 Saturday afternoon at “Pete” Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium.
Jalin Moore led Appalachian State (7-4, 6-1 Sun Belt) with 239 yards rushing, the first 100-yard rusher allowed by the Panthers all season. Georgia State (6-4, 5-2 Sun Belt) was the last FBS team in the nation that had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 2017.
Sophomore receiver Penny Hart led the Panthers with five catches for 61 yards. He is now just one reception shy of tying the school’s single-season record of 71, which Albert Wilson set in 2013 and then Hart tied in 2015. Hart also topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season; he now has 1,022 yards, making him the first Panther to record two 1,000-yard seasons.
Georgia State had its three-game winning streak snapped, but the Panthers have won six of their last eight games entering next Saturday’s regular-season finale vs. Idaho. GSU is now one game behind Appalachian State, Troy and Arkansas State in the Sun Belt standings with one game to play.
GSU quarterback Conner Manning completed 22 of 35 passes for 201 yards and scored on a 2-yard run.
Brandon Wright booted a career-long 50-yard field goal for the Panthers, equalling the second-longest field goal in school history. Another bright spot was sophomore running back Tra Barnett with 42 yards rushing on just five carries.
“It certainly wasn’t the outcome we had hoped for,” head coach Shawn Elliott said. “It was a little disappointing, a lot disappointing to tell you the truth. Hats off to an Appalachian State team that’s been pretty good so far, as you can see.
“It would seem like there’s a big gap between these two football programs, but there’s not. Some of our foolish penalties and not having that competitive edge coming out in the beginning of the second half were very evident, and they took advantage of it.”
In a scoreless game, the GSU defense had a tremendous goal-line stand at the end of the first quarter, holding on four straight plays after App State had a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line.
But App State scored the game’s first touchdown on its next possession on Moore’s 3-yard run with 12 minutes to play in the second quarter
The Panthers answered with Manning’s 2-yard touchdown run, which capped a 5-play, 36-yard scoring drive set up by Antreal Allen’s interception, his first of the season. Manning hit Hart for 19 yards and then found tight end Roger Carter over the middle down to the 2 before taking it in himself to tie the game at 7-all with seven minutes in the half.
Chandon Sullivan also had an interception for GSU, picking off App State quarterback Taylor Lamb on the Mountaineers’ first offensive snap.
The Mountaineers added Chandler Staton’s 42-yard field goal late in the first half to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room, and then App State broke the game open with two quick scores in the second half. On their first drive, Moore broke through the line for a 58-yard run down to the 6-yard line, and then Lamb threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Collin Reed. Then A.J. Howard intercepted Manning and returned it 61 yards to the 2-yard line to set up another Lamb TD pass, this one to Ike Lewis, and the Mountaineers led 24-7 six minutes into the second half.
Lamb passed for just 107 yards in the game but threw two touchdowns and rushed for a third score.
Georgia State concludes the regular season next Saturday, hosting Idaho at 2 p.m. at Georgia State Stadium.
“There’s a lot to play for,” Elliott said. “We’re going to end this thing next week against Idaho with a chance for a seventh win and then carry that over into a bowl game. We’ve got a lot to play for. There are a lot of positive things happening with this football program, but there are still a lot of lessons to be learned. This is how football programs are built. You just don’t wake up and everything works. You have to learn from the tough losses.”