Richmond rolled into Atlanta and rolled over Georgia State 35-14 behind a four touchdown performance by senior quarterback John Laub.
The visiting Spiders sputtered on their first possession before notching three touchdowns on their next three series to take a commanding 21-0 lead in the first half.
Junior running back Jovan Smith capped a thirteen play, 83-yard drive with a 1 yard run. The drive accomplished exactly what Richmond head coach Danny Rocco wanted to do. “We wanted to be able to have more success running the football,” said Rocco. The Spiders rushed for 144 yards on the day including 32 yards on eight carries on the initial scoring drive.
After another long, ball controlled scoring drive, the Spiders flipped the script. On 2nd and 15, Laub found receiver Stephen Barnette across the middle for a 49 yard catch and run touchdown. “We knew he was going to be open and he did a great job with the route,” said Laub . “I just threw it up to a spot where Stephen could make a play”. Barnett caught three passes for 87 yards in the game.
Georgia State waited until three minutes before the end of the half to put points on the board. Senior running back Donald Russell ignited the 7 play, 80 yard drive with a 52 yard run on the series first play. Russell added a 14 yard reception and a 5 yard run to set up the score. Junior receiver Albert Wilson took the short pass from Ben McLane and out-willed two tacklers for the touchdown.
The Panthers defense gave the ball back to the offense for another bite at the apple stopping the Spiders on 4 downs. Before the Panthers defense could finish celebrating the stand, Ben McLane gave it right back with his second interception in the final minute for the second week in a row.
Laub wasted no time going back to Barnette for a 32 yard gain to the Panthers 8. Again the Panthers defense came up with four straight stops. Only an offsides penalty negated the stop on 4th and goal. The reprieve allowed Laub to dive in for his second score of the game.
The score didn’t give Coach Rocco warm fuzzies. “We wanted to establish a physical presence,” said Rocco. And that’s really why the goal line series was so frustrating to me because I felt we did out on the field, but when we got down to the goal line where it mattered most we really didn’t offer that presence.
Both teams added single touchdowns in the second half. Richmond’s inability to score bothered Rocco.
Russell finished with 119 rushing yards on 24 carries. "I think we had opportunities to put this opponent away and we never did it,” said Rocco.
A quarterback controversy may be brewing with the emergence of Ronnie Bell. In limited minutes, Bell rushed for 31 yards on 4 carries and completed 7 of 10 passes for 91 yards and 2 interceptions.
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