Momentum is a fickle mistress. Want proof? Look no further than Friday’s Georgia State opener against Samford. Behind 14-7 after one half of play, the Bulldogs stole a glance from the lady and the game from the Panthers running up 24 points in the second half for a 31-21 win.
Things haven’t been rosy for the 4 year old program as of late. After a winning record (6-5) in their opening season, wins have been tough to come by. The Panthers have won just 4 of their 22 games. Where they have shined however, is in their home openers. Georgia State was 2-1 in openers with their only loss in 2012 to South Carolina State 33-6.
The bitterness of Saturday’s loss was not due to lack of talent or preparation but a momentary lapse in their attention span.
Samford’s Fabian Truss gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead returning the opening kick 100 yards for the score.
The Panthers saw the Bulldogs 7 points and raised them 14 points with two well-executed drives.
Starting quarterback Ronnie Bell led the Panthers on a 73 yard scoring drive on the second possession of the game. On third and 13, Bell connected with wide receiver Kelton Hill inside the 5 yard line and the redshirt senior did the rest. Hill was just warming up with the touchdown. He added a second receiving touchdown to start the second quarter, a 17-yarder from Bell that capped a 10 play, 87 yard drive.
It was the last drive over 5-plays the Panthers offense would have in the first half. Although the offense sputtered the defense held them up. “My hats off to the way our defensive coaches called the game today and how the players performed,” said Miles.
When Samford scored the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter, the defense was on the sideline. Bell’s pass intended for Albert Wilson sailed high and into the outstretched paw of junior safety Jacquiski Tartt. Tartt, a Buchanan Award Preseason Candidate, made a spectacular one-handed snag and returned it 33 yards for the score. “I think that juiced us up a little bit” said Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Bill D’Ottavio. Tartt’s a good football player for us and you hope that some of your leaders make some big plays in a ball game. If you don’t have those you’re probably not going to win, so that certainly was a momentum play”.
The momentum had certainly chosen a new dance partner.
Samford added two more scores in the first half of the last quarter on back-to-back drives. Fabian Truss capped a 62 yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to give the visitors the lead 21-14. The Bulldogs added the second offensive score thanks in part to a 27 yard punt from the Panthers Matt Hubbard. Samford quarterback Andy Summers wasted no time taking advantage of the short field. On the fourth play of the series, Summers found Karel Hamilton over the top of the defense in the back of the endzone.
The Panthers added another touchdown after a Bulldogs field goal to tighten the score but there wasn’t enough time for a comeback.
Georgia State will gear up for a visit from Chattanooga after a week of rest. Samford travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks.
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