In its first-ever contest against an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision opponent, Georgia State fell to No. 4 Jacksonville State, 34-27, in overtime at the Georgia Dome.
Needing a touchdown and extra point to prolong the extra period after giving up a score to JSU on the first possession, Georgia State quarterback Kelton Hill threw incomplete in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line. Tight end Arthur Williams came down with the tipped pass, but after one official signaled touchdown, he was ruled out of bounds.
Jacksonville State scored on four plays on the first possession of overtime, with quarterback Marques Ivory running four yards for a touchdown.
"We didn't come here to do well against good teams," said head coach Bill Curry. "We came here to beat them, and there were so many ways that we could have today, but we weren't ready to take that step just yet."
After falling behind 27-20 early in the fourth quarter, Georgia State scored with 3:57 minutes left in regulation to tie the score 27-27 on a one-yard Drew Little quarterback sneak. The tying drive covered 75 yards on 13 plays, including third-down completions by Little to Sidney Haynes for 14 yards and Travis Evans for seven yards. Little hit Danny Williams for 16 yards down to the JSU one to set up the score.
Regulation ended in frantic fashion with Jacksonville State in possession of the ball in field goal range on the GSU 20-yard line. After completing a five-yard pass with time running down, Ivory took the snap rathern than spiking the ball or calling timeout to stop the clock and bring up a potential game-winning field goal attempt. His pass was tipped and nearly intercepted by Brandon Jones to send the game into overtime.
After allowing a field goal to JSU on the first possession of the game, Georgia State struck quickly on its first drive with a scintillating 41-yard touchdown run by Darren McCray to take a 7-3 lead. On the play, McCray took a reverse handoff from Albert Wilson and streaked down the sideline, fighting off several Gamecock defenders to find the end zone.
JSU countered with a short touchdown pass by Ivory, who found Jamal Young for the four-yard scoring play on the first play of the second quarter to regain the lead, 10-7.
The score at halftime was 17-10 in the Gamecocks' favor as JSU mounted a late touchdown drive after an Iain Vance 39-yard field goal with 4:13 to go in the second.
The two teams traded field goals to begin the third quarter, with Vance again connecting on a 25-yard try.
Down 20-13 in the fourth quarter, Georgia State again struck quickly on offense. After moving the ball into JSU territory, Evans took a handoff up the middle and eluded several would-be tacklers to go 46 yards for the touchdown and tie the game at 20-20 with 13:26 to go in the contest.
The Panthers put up 339 yards of total offense in the game, with Little completing 25 of 38 passes for 227 yards. Receivers Danny Williams and Bo Schlechter were the main targets, with Williams catching seven passes for 78 yards and Schlechter, the former quarterback, bringing in five passes for 64 yards. Safety Brandon Jones led the defense with seven total tackles.
"Obviously, Drew Little was outstanding at quarterback," Curry added. "Obviously, Travis Evans is a force when he contains his enthusiasm. He is an amazing player. The offensive line took a giant step forward today from last week."