ATLANTA--Georgia State plays its final road game of the season this week, and the Panthers face another tough challenge in West Alabama, a nationally-ranked program in NCAA Division II. GSU (2-7) and West Alabama (7-3) square off Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at Tiger Stadium in Livingston, Ala.
Georgia State is riding a remarkable streak of three consecutive overtime games after defeating South Alabama, 27-20, but falling the last two weeks to UTSA, 17-14, and St. Francis (Ill.), 30-27.
Head coach Bill Curry said the most frustrating aspect has been his team's struggles in the fourth quarter.
"When you fail to take care of business after you build up a lead and you're heading into the fourth quarter and that happens over, and over, and over, then something is missing," he said. "That's not just an accident or an opponent, or execution in that particular game. Something is missing. It's the head coach's responsibility to find it and fix it. We have not yet done that, but we will. We have good players. I've never experienced anything like this with a group that has the talent to finish the job, which we do. It's a combination of the players and coaches. They're not bad breaks; they're acts of performance."
West Alabama is ranked No. 21 in the D2Football.com Top 25 poll. The Tigers are coming off a 36-34 loss at No. 1-ranked Delta State, a game in which West Alabama trailed 36-7 early in the third quarter before rallying for 27 straight points.
"We come up against yet another opponent that is having a very good year in West Alabama, coached by Will Hall, who is doing an outstanding job," said Curry. "He has a true freshman quarterback named Kyle Caldwell, who is a lights-out, poised young player. We see this almost every week, and we have a poised, good young quarterback ourselves [Kelton Hill]."
West Alabama is primarily an option team, averaging 227.2 yards per game, but Caldwell has passed for 1,145 yards and 11 touchdowns. Top rusher Matt Willis has run for 1,237 yards and 13 scores.
"As usual we see almost every week a guy who is a potential next-level running back, and West Alabama has one in Matt Willis," said Curry. "They also have the biggest offensive line we will play against.
"We're going to have to buckle up and get back to the basics, which we got away from last week," he continued. "We had gotten better and better running the ball and stopping the run until last week."
The two teams have played one common opponent this season in South Alabama. Georgia State defeated South Alabama, 27-20 in two overtimes Oct. 29 at the Georgia Dome. In the opening week of the season, West Alabama fell to the Jaguars, 20-10, in Mobile, Ala.
Live radio coverage is available on the Georgia State Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship Newstalk 1160-AM (WCFO). WRAS-FM 88.5 will also air the game, joining in progress following the GSU men's basketball game (approximately 7:10 p.m.)