ATLANTA – Despite putting up its best offensive performance of the season, the Georgia State football team dropped a 44-21 decision to Colonial Athletic Association foe No. 17/14 New Hampshire Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
GSU fell to 0-6 on the season, while New Hampshire, ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 14 by the Sports Network, improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the CAA with the win. UNH head coach Sean McDonnell earned his 100th career victory in his 14th season with the Wildcats.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Ben McLane came off the bench and led the Panthers with 169 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Junior receiver Albert Wilson had 105 receiving yards, including touchdown catches of 54 and 47 yards.
UNH put up 624 total yards of offense on 83 plays as Wildcat quarterback Andy Vailas passed for 252 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Nico Steriti led all rushers with 126 yards and scored three touchdowns.
"We had a chance to drive up and down the field, but stopped ourselves repeatedly. When we did start to drive, it was too little too late," said GSU head coach Bill Curry. "Once again, the tendency, when the defense made a great play or had a turnover, we almost immediately found a way to turn the ball back over. That's just simply a matter of poise. There is no excuse and no explanation."
New Hampshire got on the board first on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Harold Spears that capped a four-play drive with 13:35 left in the first period. Mike MacArthur’s kick attempt was good and gave UNH a 7-0 lead.
GSU tied the game on its first drive when starting quarterback Ronnie Bell connected with Wilson for a 54-yard touchdown pass that capped a six-play 77 yard drive.
A GSU fumble at its own 28 yard line allowed the Wildcats to put together a 21-yard touchdown drive capped by an eight-yard pass from Vailas to Steriti for the score. A successful field goal attempt gave the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 12:22 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcats struck again with 8:54 left in the first half when Steriti ran the ball seven yards for his second score of the period, giving UNH a 21-7 lead.
New Hampshire took advantage of a GSU turnover, scoring a touchdown with 14:34 left in the third period that extended the UNH lead to 28-7.
The Wildcats scored another touchdown with 3:14 left in the third quarter and followed with a 43-yard field goal by MacArthur to extend their lead to 38-7 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
McLane connected with Emmanuel Ogbuehi with 26-yard touchdown pass with 13:52 left in game that cut the UNH lead to 38-14.
"I was able to get away from the safety. (Ben) McLane just saw me over the middle, and I made the catch," said Ogbuehi after the game.
The Wildcats answered with a touchdown at the 13:32 mark in the fourth quarter but the Panthers answered when McLane found Wilson in the endzone with a 47-yard TD pass that cut the UNH lead to 44-21 with 4:51 left to play in the game.
"Everyone continued to play hard. We got to the football, we just didn't tackle when we got there. We did for long stretches, but not nearly long enough," said Curry. "There are a lot of things we can do to improve and we're doing a lot of them, or all the things that I know of. There is enthusiastic response when we go out and change the practice style, which we have. We're faster than we were a few weeks ago and it's because of the way we practice. But there is a risk in the way we're practicing because you get more injuries because you hit more. We just don't have enough players were we can lose anymore. And that's what happens. We do full speed, goal line work. It has paid off, we've seen it in the games."
Georgia State returns to action October 16 as they travel to CAA rival Rhode Island for a 1 p.m. tilt.