2011 Football Season Review
FINAL RECORD: 3-8
Final 2011 Season Statistics
Game Statistics and Recaps
PANTHERS END WITH RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCE
Georgia State concluded its encore season on a positive note as the Panthers defeated Campbell, 42-35.
The Panthers used their most complete offensive performance of the season with a school-record 514 yards of total offense, including 301 yards rushing, also a GSU record. The Panthers had two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time with Donald Russell (146 yards) and Kelton Hill (141 yards). GSU also set records with 27 first downs and 34:04 of possession time.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Georgia State's 3-8 record in 2011 could have been much different with just a few plays. The Panthers stood at 2-5 after an overtime victory over South Alabama and looked to put together a strong finish. But GSU dropped its next three games by a total of 13 points, including overtime losses to UTSA (17-14) and St. Francis (30-27) and a 30-23 defeat at West Alabama.
In both overtime losses, GSU led late before its opponent scored in the final seconds of regulation to force the overtime. At UTSA, the Panthers got the ball at the Roadrunners 31-yard line with a 14-11 lead and 3:42 left, needing just one first down to run out the clock. Instead, GSU missed a 45-yard field goal, allowing UTSA to kick the tying field goal with 24 seconds left.
One week later, GSU surrendered the game-tying field goal on the final play of regulation, only because the St. Francis receiver managed to get out of bounds with just one second on the clock.
At West Alabama, the Panthers trailed by seven and were going in for a potential tying touchdown with a first down at the UWA 25 with just under a minute to play but fumbled the ball. That was one of four second-half red zone scoring opportunities squandered by the Panthers in the game.
TOP 20 IN ATTENDANCE
Georgia State averaged 14,286 fans for its six home games at the Georgia Dome. That figure ranks 18th in the nation among FCS programs.
FIVE NAMED ALL-INDEPENDENT
Georgia State football standouts Albert Wilson, Donald Russell, Jake Muasau, Ladeven Kirkland and Demarius Matthews were named to the FCS Independent Football All Conference Team selected by College Sports Madness.
Wilson was selected at both wide receiver and punt returner. He was GSU's leading receiver with 37 catches for 772 yards (20.9 yds per catch) and six touchdowns in nine games. He ranked eighth in the nation in punt returns with an average of 11.9 yards per return. Wilson averaged 134.4 all-purpose yards per game.
Russell made an immediate impact in his first season at Georgia State after transferring from Kentucky. He led Georgia State with 665 yards on 128 carries, despite missing almost two full games to injury, and he scored a team-high nine touchdowns, including at least one score in the first seven games he played for GSU. The junior became the first 100-yard rusher in school history when he gained a then school-record 136 yards on 20 carries in the Panthers' win over South Alabama.
Muasau has been the top playmaker on the Georgia State defense the last two years. This fall, the senior outside linebacker collected 56 tackles, eight tackles for loss, plus interceptions and a fumble recovery. He is GSU's career leader in tackles for loss (16.5) and interceptions (3), along with 106 career tackles, seven sacks, four fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.
Kirkland, a senior, started every game at right guard, helping the Panthers rank in the top 30 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed while improving their running game.
Matthews, a sophomore cornerback, led the Panthers with nine pass breakups on the season, along with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. He also averaged 22.7 yards on kickoff returns.
RUNNING GAME GETS GOING
Georgia State's showed improvement over the second half of the season, averaging 217.7 yards per game for the final six contests. That stretch was punctuated by a record-setting performance in the season-ending win over Campbell, in which the Panthers rushed for a GSU-record 301 yards. Georgia State had two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time with Donald Russell (146 yards) and Kelton Hill (141 yards).
Against South Carolina State (Oct. 15), the Panthers rushed for 244 yards on 45 attempts, at the time the highs in Georgia State's history. The previous rushing record was 232 yards last season vs. Savannah State. Most of the damage was done by the trio of quarterback Kelton Hill (94 yards), Russell (85) and running back Travis Evans (62), who combined for 241 of the 244 yards.
In the overtime win over South Alabama (Oct. 22), GSU rushed 43 times for 220 yards, including a school-record 136 yards by running back Donald Russell.
The Panthers added 219 yards rushing on just 31 carries against West Alabama (Nov. 12), including a school-record 152 yards by quarterback Kelton Hill.
The Georgia State program says farewell to 20 seniors who played their final home game at the Georgia Dome against Campbell.
Of the 20, seven have been part of the program since the Panthers began practice in 2009 (Ben Jacoby, Brandon Jones, Michael Hall, Deron Jordan, Robert Truitt, Kevin Thompson, Cliff Ibarrondo), while the remaining 13 arrived prior to the 2010 season.
The group of 20 includes four starters on the offensive line, two starters on the defensive line, and two starting linebackers, plus starters at tight end and safety.
Four seniors previously played at FBS schools (Joseph Gilbert, Clyde Yandell, Ben Jacoby and Bailey Woods) and one at an FCS program (Jocquez Fears), while others arrived from a variety of places, from Mars Hill College in North Carolina to Navarro College in Texas to Palomar College in Calif.
HILL SETS RECORDS
Quarterback Kelton Hill displayed his multi-talents when he set the Georgia State single-game rushing record while collecting a career-high in passing yards against West Alabama (Nov. 12).
The sophomore from Douglasville, Ga., rushed for 152 yards on 19 carries to surpass Donald Russell's record of 136 yards, set earlier this season against South Alabama. Included in his total was a 53-yard touchdown that is the longest scoring run in school history. He also scored on a two-yard run to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
Hill also set career highs with 19 completions for 228 yards, including a 33-yard TD pass to Albert Wilson. He totalled 380 yards of total offense.
MILLENIUM MARKS FOR RECEIVING, RUSHING
Albert Wilson had another productive outing against West Alabama (Nov. 12) with a career-high eight catches for 120 yards, his third 100-yard game of the season, including a 33-yard touchdown catch.
Wilson became the second Panther in as many weeks to reach the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving yards. He is Georgia State's career leader with 1,058 receiving yards on 55 catches. That's an average of 19.2 yards per catch. His eight touchdown receptions are also the school record, while his 55 catches rank second only to Danny Williams.
The Georgia State offense featured 14 explosive plays of 40 yards or more, including 12 pass plays and two runs. Eight of these plays went for touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, quarterback Kelton Hill has been involved in all but four of these plays, and wide receiver Albert Wilson has been on the receiving end of seven plays of at least 48 yards.
Georgia State's 2011 plays of 40 yards or more:
78 Pass Albert Wilson from Kelton Hill vs. South Alabama, 2011 (TD)
64 Pass Albert Wilson from Kelton Hill vs. South Alabama, 2011 (TD)
56 Pass Danny Williams from Kelton Hill vs. Campbell, 2011 (TD)
55 Pass Jordan Giles from Kelton Hill vs. Campbell, 2011 (TD)
54 Pass Albert Wilson from Kelton Hill vs. UTSA, 2011 (TD)
54 Pass Albert Wilson from Bo Schlechter vs. Jacksonville State, 2011
53 Pass Albert Wilson from Drew Little vs. Jacksonville State, 2011
53 Run Kelton Hill vs. West Alabama, 2011 (TD)
52 Run Kelton Hill vs. St. Francis, 2011
50 Pass Albert Wilson from Kelton Hill vs. St. Francis, 2011
49 Pass Danny Williams from Kelton Hill vs. Murray State, 2011
48 Pass Albert Wilson from Bo Schlechter vs. Clark Atlanta, 2011 (TD)
43 Pass Danny Williams from Kelton Hill vs. Murray State, 2011 (TD)
42 Pass Danny Williams from Drew Little vs. Houston, 2011
JAKE MAKES PLAYS
Outside linebacker Jake Muasau closed his senior season with a bang. Over his last four games, Muasau collected 26 tackles, six tackles for loss, including three sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
In the finale against Campbell, Muasau had four tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. One week earlier against West Alabama, he had six tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception.
The senior with the famous mane earned honorable mention recognition as National Linebacker Performer of the Week by the CFPA for his play against UTSA (Oct. 29), when he collected a career-high 10 tackles with two sacks and an interception.
Muasau also made a huge defensive play in the Oct. 22 win over South Alabama when, on the game's final play in the second overtime, he pressured the quarterback into an errant throw that resulted in Mark Hogan's game-ending interception.
Georgia State has played 22 games in its history, and sophomore Danny Williams has caught at least one pass in every one of them. After two seasons, he has 84 receptions for 1,134 yards and eight touchdowns, all GSU career records.
The sophomore from Orlando, Fla., finished the season wit 92 yards on four catches against Campbell, including a career-long 56-yard touchdown catch.
Two games earlier against St. Francis (Nov. 5), he became the first Panther to reach 1,000 yards receiving in his career.
Against Murray State (Oct. 8), Williams caught nine passes for 151 yards to set the Georgia State record for receiving yards in a game, which has since been surpassed by Albert Wilson. He hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass and also had a 49-yard reception, and he earned honorable mention recognition for Wide Receiver Performer of the Week from the College Football Performance Awards.
Williams led GSU in receptions (54), receiving yards (649) and touchdown catches (5) during the inaugural season of 2010. This season, he had 30 catches for 485 yards and two scores.
He also owns the Panthers' single-game record for receptions (11 vs. Old Dominion in 2010). He has four of the seven 100-yard games in GSU history.
HALL, JENKINS ARE GSU'S FIRST ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT SELECTIONS
Georgia State linebacker Michael Hall and noseguard Kalan Jenkins were named Thursday to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District football team, becoming the first Panther football players to earn this honor.
Hall is a senior on the football field but a graduate student in the classroom after earning his degree in August in Exercise Science, graduating with a 3.41 grade point average. The Dublin, Ga., native is the Panthers' third-leading tackler with 52, including four tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Jenkins, a senior from Midlothian, Texas, is a two-year starter on the GSU defensive line, moving to noseguard this season after playing defensive end during the Panthers' inaugural season. He maintains a 3.94 grade point average in Exercise Science.
Hall and Jenkins give Georgia State a total of seven Academic All-District selections so far this year, which equals GSU's high for one academic year, with winter and spring sports still to follow. The football honorees join women's soccer standouts Sarah Bennett, Bri Cagle and Jewel Evans, Vincent Foermer in men's soccer, and Vineece Verdun in volleyball.
MATT ON THE MARK
True freshman punter Matt Hubbard steadily improved after taking over the punting duties. He ranked 15th in the nation, averaging 41.9 yards per punt.
Against UTSA (Oct. 29), he averaged 47.0 yards on five punts, including a 64-yard punt that is the longest in Georgia State history. The Peachtree City, Ga., native earned honorable mention recognition as National Punter Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA).
Hubbard was particularly sharp over the last six games, averaging 45.3 yards on 19 punts.
PANTHERS USE RECORDS, DEFENSE TO KNOCK OFF SOUTH ALABAMA
Georgia State used record-setting performances by running back Donald Russell and wide receiver Albert Wilson and clutch play by its defense to outlast South Alabama, 27-20, in two overtimes Oct. 22 at the Georgia Dome.
Russell set GSU records with 136 yards rushing on 20 carries, and his eighth touchdown of the season came on an eight-yard scamper in the second overtime for the game-winning score. In his first start at quarterback, Kelton Hill went 12-for-15 for 209 yards and threw touchdown passes of 78 and 64 yards to Wilson, who finished with a school-record 175 yards receiving. The GSU defense came up with five takeaways, including Mark Hogan's game-ending interception in overtime.
DEFENSE MAKES A STAND
Georgia State's defense turned in its best game of the season in the win over South Alabama. The GSU defense set the tone with a goal-line stand on the game's opening possession. After a 71-yard kickoff return, the Jaguars had a first-and-goal at the one-yard line, but the Panther defense stoned the run four straight plays, with Christo Bilukidi stopping Kendall Houston on fourth down for a one-yard loss.
In the first overtime, GSU forced a missed field goal. After GSU opened the second overtime with a touchdown, South Alabama moved to a first down at the three, but on second-and-goal, Jake Muasau pressured quarterback C.J. Bennett into an errant throw that was tipped in the end zone and corralled by Mark Hogan for the game-ending interception.
The defense set a GSU record with five takeaways during the game, including interceptions by Jamal Ransby, Brent McClendon and Evan Bostic and a fumble recovery by Brandon Jones, all inside the 25-yard line.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN FOR HOGAN
Mark Hogan grabbed the interception and went running - he thought he had sealed a victory over South Alabama (Oct. 22). Hogan had intercepted South Alabama quarterback C.J. Bennett at the goal line on what appeared to be the final play of regulation with Georgia State holding a 20-13 lead. But South Alabama was flagged for illegal motion - a dead ball foul because the Jaguars were never set and the clock had stopped on the previous play - so the down was replayed, and South Alabama scored the game-tying touchdown to force OT.
After GSU took a 27-20 lead in the second overtime, South Alabama faced second and goal at the two-yard line, needing a touchdown to force another session. Outside linebacker Jake Muasau pressured Bennett, who threw towards the end zone. The ball was batted in the air and came down in the hands of none other than . . . Mark Hogan.
RUSSELL BOOSTS RUNNING GAME
Running back Donald Russell became the first 100-yard rusher in Georgia State history with 136 yards on 20 attempts in the Panthers' 27-20 overtime win over South Alabama (Oct. 22). Most importantly, he scored the game-winning touchdown with an eight-yard run in the second extra session. In fact, in the two overtime periods, Russell carried the ball on every GSU play, gaining 43 yards on five carries.
Russell showed a penchant for finding the end zone, scoring at least one touchdown in the first seven games he played this season until leaving the St. Francis game with an injury. He led the team with nine touchdowns, which is also the GSU career record.
In the season opener against Clark Atlanta, Russell scored touchdowns of 20 yards and then three yards the first two times he touched the ball in a GSU uniform.
He also scored twice against Murray State (10-8-11) on runs of four and nine yards, the latter play coming after he took a direct snap in a wildcat formation.
Georgia State wide receiver Albert Wilson was named FCS Independent Player of the Week by College Sports Madness after his record-setting performance in the Panthers' 27-20 victory over South Alabama in two overtimes. He also earned honorable mention recognition as CFPA National Wide Receiver Performer of the Week.
The sophomore from Port St. Lucie, Fla., set a new Georgia State record for receiving yards in a game with 175 yards on just five catches.
In the first quarter, Wilson grabbed screen pass and raced 78 yards for the Panthers' first touchdown and the longest play from scrimmage in Georgia State history. In the second quarter, he got behind the defense and hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Kelton Hill, good for the second-longest play in GSU annals.
Earlier this season, Wilson had 146 receiving yards on six catches Sept. 17 at No. 16/17 Jacksonville State. He had a 54-yard catch and then a 53-yard reception late in the game on which he appeared headed for the end zone but pulled up with a hamstring injury.
In the season-opening win over Clark Atlanta, he was the game's leading receiver with three catches for 85 yards, including TD catches of 30 and 48 yards. He also returned three punts for 34 yards and had a 10-yard run. Against Old Dominion, he totalled a school-record 229 all-purpose yards, including four catches for 53 yards and seven punt returns for 85 yards.
ANOTHER POSITION, NO PROBLEM FOR JOHN
In the first five games of the 2011 season, sophomore Ulrick John started at three different positions on the offensive line.
John, from Hinesville, Ga., entered the season as the Panthers' backup left tackle. He started the season opener at left tackle in place of injured Clyde Yandell.
Two games later, after Georgia State's top two centers were injured, John started at center against Houston. Then against Murray State, the 6-8, 290-pounder started at left guard while Joseph Gilbert served a one-game suspension.
UNDER THE GUNN
Cornerback D'Mario Gunn achieved a first in Georgia State history as he became the first Panther to grab two interceptions in a game against Murray State. Both picks came deep in Georgia State territory. The junior from Hampton, Ga., intercepted Casey Brockman's first pass of the game at the GSU 12, and then in the second quarter Gunn grabbed another interception at the Panthers' 11-yard line.
Gunn earned honorable mention recognition for Defensive Back Performer of the Week from the College Football Performance Awards.
JENKINS IS SEMIFINALIST FOR NATIONAL SCHOLAR ATHLETE AWARDS
Georgia State defensive lineman Kalan Jenkins is one of 127 candidates for the 2011 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments®. The 127 nominees also comprise the list of semifinalists for the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation.
A senior from Midlothian, Texas, Jenkins is the Panthers' starting noseguard this season after playing defensive end during GSU's inaugural season of 2010. The 6-5, 275-pounder is actually playing his fourth different position since arriving at GSU 18 months ago from Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas.
In the classroom, Jenkins maintains a grade point average of 3.94, and the exercise science major plans to pursue physical therapy in graduate school.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
SKELTON MAKES BIG PLAYS
Safety Demazio Skelton turned in a big play in each of Georgia State's first two games.
In the opener against Clark Atlanta, the junior from Myrtle Beach, S.C., grabbed an interception off a tipped pass and returned it 26 yards to the CAU 20, setting up Georgia State's first touchdown.
Against Old Dominion, Skelton scooped up a fumble in the end zone and raced 93 yards before he was brought down at the seven-yard line. That is the third-longest play of any kind in GSU history, behind kickoff returns of 97 and 96 yards.
He added another big play at West Alabama as he blocked a punt for a safety, the first in Georgia State history.
BILUKIDI NOTICED BY CFL
Georgia State defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi is rated one of the top 15 prospects for the 2012 CFL Canadian Draft, according to a list published by the CFL Scouting Bureau.
Bilukidi is a 6-5, 290-pound senior from Ottawa, Ontario. He is playing his second season at Georgia State after transferring from Eastern Arizona J.C.
Tabbed to the preseason All-Independent team by Phil Steele's 2011 College Football Preview, he led Georgia State's inaugural team in sacks with five, along with seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and 51 tackles in 2010.
Born in Angola, Bilukidi lived in France and Brazil before settling in Canada. He played just one year of high school football at St. Patrick's in Ottawa.
The 2012 CFL Draft will be held next May and will include six rounds.
ANOTHER IMPRESSIVE OPENER
The kickoff of the encore season of Georgia State football produced exactly the same result as the kickoff of GSU's inaugural season: a 41-7 Georgia State victory before a tremendous crowd of 26,273 at the Georgia Dome.
And for the second straight year, a quarterback playing his first collegiate game under center turned in an impressive performance. Bo Schlechter passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns against Clark Atlanta while directing a GSU offense that rolled up 41 points and did not commit a turnover. Also making a strong debut was running back Donald Russell, a transfer from Kentucky who rushed for a team-high 56 yards and two touchdowns in his first game in a GSU uniform. Sophomore Albert Wilson caught touchdown passes of 30 and 48 yards. Safety Demazio Skelton and outside linebacker Robert Ferguson grabbed interceptions to set up touchdowns, and the GSU defense limited Clark Atlanta to a school-record 247 yards of total offense.
BENVENUTO EARNS NATIONAL AWARD
True freshman Christian Benvenuto had large shoes to fill, replacing third-team All-American Iain Vance as the Georgia State placekicker, and the rookie did not disappoint. Benvenuto was named National Placekicker Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA), sharing the honor with Cody Sandlin of UT-Martin.
On his first collegiate field goal try, Benvenuto booted a 44-yard field goal on GSU's first possession. He added a 45-yard field goal and was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points. The Palm Coast, Fla., native also handled kickoff duties.
Benvenuto was one of three Panthers honored by the CFPA. Quarterback Bo Schlechter was an honorable mention selection as Quarterback Performer of the Week, and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, who caught three passes for 28 yards, was an honorable mention choice as Tight End Performer of the Week.
SECOND LARGEST FCS CROWD
Georgia State had another tremendous crowd for opening night with 26,273 fans watching GSU defeat Clark Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
The Georgia Dome was the second largest of the opening weekend in any FCS team's home stadium. The only FCS game to attract a larger crowd was UTSA's inaugural game, which drew 56,743 at the Alamodome. At a neutral site, the Chicago Football Classic drew 35,653 for Hampton and Alabama A&M at Soldier Field.
BO KNOWS QUARTERBACK, TOO
Sophomore Bo Schlechter started at quarterback for Georgia State in its season opener. The 6-3, 210-pounder is one of the best all-around athletes on the squad, but he was playing his first collegiate game at quarterback. His one pass attempt in 2010 came on a fake punt attempt.
Schlechter passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns against Clark Atlanta while directing a GSU offense that rolled up 41 points and did not commit a turnover. He completed 13-of-18 passes and also rushed nine times for 27 yards. He was named FCS Independent Player of the Week by College Sports Madness, and he was an honorable mention selection as Quarterback Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA).
A native of Wellington, Fla., Schlechter signed as part of the Panthers' first recruiting class in 2009. He played quarterback throughout a redshirt year in 2009 and competed for the starting berth in the 2010 preseason. When he didn't win the quarterback job, he elected to move to wide receiver and caught eight passes for 118 yards.
Schlechter has also punted for GSU. He averaged 44.5 yards per punt in 2010 and helped the Panthers to a net punting average of 37.3, which would have ranked among the Top 10 nationally had Georgia State been eligible for NCAA statistical rankings. He was a preseason, fourth-team All-American as well as an All-Independent by selection Phil Steele's 2011 College Football Preview.
FOUR POSITIONS FOR JENKINS
Senior noseguard Kalan Jenkins is now playing his fourth different position since arriving at Georgia State 18 months ago.
The Midlothian, Texas, native joined the program in January of 2010 after two seasons as a tight end at Navarro College. He remained at tight end for spring practice of 2010 before moving to defensive end, where he started every game during the inaugural season. This spring, he switched to defensive tackle, and then at the start of preseason camp, he moved even further inside to noseguard.