ATLANTA-Taylor Heinicke passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns as No. 5 Old Dominion defeated Georgia State, 53-27 Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
It was the final home game for head coach Bill Curry, the only coach in the program’s history who will retire after the season. Before the game, Georgia State announced the locker room at the football team’s practice facility will be named in Curry’s honor.
"It absolutely stunned me," Curry said of the locker room naming. "It’s the only time today. I had no intention in choking up. These amazing act of kindness towards me today, I don't even have words."
The biggest highlights for Georgia State came from junior Albert Wilson, who set two school records. Wilson ignited the Georgia Dome crowd, changing direction and out-running the Old Dominion return team for a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. It was a school record for Wilson, who also had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 2010 against Alabama. On this one, Wilson fielded the ball four yards deep in the end zone.
"He was not supposed to bring that ball out," Curry said. "It’s the longest kick off return I’ve ever been a part of. What he does is just (he) uses his supernatural ability and it is amazing to see what he does. Those are really fast people chasing him, and you just can’t catch him."
With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Ben McLane made a perfect pass to Wilson, who was streaking down the sideline and turned it into a school-record 93-yard touchdown catch that made it a 46-21 game.
Wilson caught six passes on the day for 149 yards and amassed a school-record 296 all-purpose yards.
Ogbuehi also topped 100 yards receiving with a career-best 108 yards on three catches, including a 55-yard reception from McLane and a 42-yard grab from wide receiver Danny Williams on a reverse.
GSU's Demazio Skelton intercepted two passes, and D'Mario Gunn also had an interception, which he returned a school-record 73 yards.
Heinicke, an Atlanta native (Collins Hill HS) who came into the game leading FCS in total offense at 436 yards per game, was 28-of-42 in helping the Monarchs improve to 8-1. Georgia State fell to 1-9 and finished the home slate 0-6.
All 27 GSU points came in the second half. The Panthers marched 80 yards in six minutes, and senior Rosevelt Watson broke an initial tackle attempt and plunged into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 32-7.
Georgia State’s best chances to score in the opening half came on a pair of second quarter possessions. First, the Panthers got an 18-yard run by Travis Evans to help get to the ODU 31-yard line, but Wil Lutz’s 48-yard field goal was short. Later, Ben McLane hooked up with Emmanuel Ogbuehi on a 55-yard completion to set up first-and-goal. Old Dominion’s defense only allowed two more yards on the series before McLane was sacked on fourth down.
Georgia State had three first half turnovers, and they cost the Panthers on the scoreboard each time.
McLane fumbled midway through the first quarter and ODU, Blessed with excellent field position, took just four plays to travel 34 yards as Heinicke made it a 15-0 game with an 11-yard scoring strike to Tyree Lee.
Up 22-0, ODU safety Devon Simmons intercepted McLane and Heinicke found Larry Pinkard in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown to push the Monarchs’ lead to 29-0.
The Panthers couldn’t take advantage of Heinicke’s second interception of the first half, but ODU capitalized on McLane’s second. After Craig Wilkins picked off a tipped ball, Jarod Brown’s 28-yard field goal sent ODU into the locker room up 32-0.
Georgia State scored its fourth touchdown of the second half when Malcolm Smith capped a nine-play drive by taking a direct snap for a two-yard touchdown run after taking a direct snap in the wildcat formation.
"While I’m always glad that the guys fight back, we shouldn’t have to fight back like that," said Curry. "It’s way past time for us to be a consistent, well-drilled football team. We still didn’t manage to play to our potential or anywhere close to it. I've just so hoped we would play our best, not for me, not even for the seniors, for everybody, the Georgia State community. It’s what everybody deserves. Georgia State football is going to be a great success, it’ll just be later than I had anticipated. We’ll get a terrific football coach and the program will prosper."
Old Dominion jumped on top early with a nine-play scoring drive on the game’s opening possession. Heinicke had a 34-yard run to get deep into Georgia State territory, and was 3-for-5 passing on the drive, including a pair of third down completions, the last of which came on a nine-yard touchdown toss to Marquel Thomas that put the Monarchs up 8-0.
Georgia State concludes the 2012 season next Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at Maine.
NOTING THE PANTHERS: With Albert Wilson's 100-yard kickoff return and 93-yard reception and D'Mario Gunn's 73-yard interception return, the Panthers achieved the longest play from scrimmage, kickoff return and interception return in the same game ... Senior tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi had three catches for a career-high 108 yards, giving the Panthers two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time. Ogbuehi has 21 receptions for 259 yards and three touchdowns over the last five games ...Wide receivers Albert Wilson and Danny Williams both reached the 100-reception milestone in this game. Williams, who had four catches for 33 yards and also threw a 42-yard pass completion to Emmanuel Ogbuehi, now has 102 career receptions for 1,339 yards, while Wilson has 102 catches for 1,938 yards ... Junior running back Travis Evans rushed for 87 yards on 14 carries to top the 1,000-yard mark for his career. He is the third-leading rusher in school history with 1,018 yards ... Senior safety Demazio Skelton grabbed two interceptions in the game, giving him five for his career, the GSU record. Another senior safety, D'Mario Gunn, also had an interception that he returned for a school-record 73 yards.