Georgia State’s run game dismantles Southern Miss 42-14

HATTIESBURG, MS – Southern Miss will have to wait another week to reach the acclaimed state of bowl eligibility after a 42-14 drubbing by Georgia State. From the opening play, it seemed Georgia State was in control, and they never faltered from that control.

“I thought they dominated us in all three phases,” Southern Miss Head Coach Will Hall said. “We are at a point in our program, in year two, we aren’t good enough to win when we don’t play well. I’ve talked about that a lot this season. We just aren’t good enough to play with teams who are good when we don’t play well.”

Southern Miss knew that Georgia State could run the football, and Hall even said Tuesday that stopping the run was a must for Southern Miss to compete in the game. It was clear from the start of the contest that the Panthers had their way on the ground.

After an opening drive turnover on downs for Georgia State and a three-and-out for Southern Miss, Georgia State ran a 15-play drive with 13 of those plays being runs and went 80 yards. Darren Grainger found Jamari Thrash for a six-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 7-0.

“I thought they were extremely physical and got after us. They ran the ball down our face, and then they really stuffed us. I thought they dominated the line of scrimmage [and] that’s a new feeling for us. We have not had that feeling this year,” Hall said.

Southern Miss forced Georgia State to punt on the next drive, but Natrone Brooks fumbled the punt, and the Panthers got the ball in plus territory.

“The turnover early in the kicking game really hurt us, because it would have gotten us off the field defensively,” Hall said.

They capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown, something that Southern Miss opponents have failed to do this season. Tucker Gregg rushed right up the middle four plays later for a Georgia State touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.

From then on, it felt as if Southern Miss would need a miracle to get back in the game. All season they haven’t had to play far from behind, and the offense has not shown to be the type geared up to score a lot of points and get into shootouts.

On Georgia State’s next possession, they went six plays, 63-yards for another Panthers touchdown. Marcus Carroll found the endzone on a six-yard carry to make the score 21-0.

Toward the end of the second quarter, Hall elected to put in quarterback Jake Lange to replace starting quarterback Zach Wilcke. Lange came in and threw an interception and Georgia State turned the turnover into points.

A few plays later, Carroll found the endzone for an 18-yard touchdown run his second of the day to push the score to 28-0 at halftime.

Georgia State held a 310-76 yard advantage in the first half, including 225 rushing yards. That came as a shocker with the way the defense has played this season.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Hall said when asked if he was “surprised” that Georgia State was able to gash the run defense as they did. “Credit to them-they did a phenomenal job…we knew their quarterback would be a problem and he was.”

Southern Miss tried to mount a comeback in the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard drive led by none other than quarterback Trey Lowe. Lowe found Cole Cavallo for a seven-yard touchdown pass.

“We call it a swipe read, but it’s basically just high low. They bracketed [Jason Brownlee], Cole stutter stepped him, and so I just put it in a location where he could catch it,” Lowe said.

After the touchdown drive, Georgia State fumbled the ball on their ensuing possession. Southern Miss capitalized and scored another touchdown from a 43-yard run by Frank Gore Jr. The score closed the lead to 28-14, and Southern Miss had the momentum.

The Panthers answered, however. On the next offensive play for Georgia State, Darren Grainger read the linebacker perfectly on the zone read and galloped down the field for 60-yards and into the redzone.

Georgia State scored to push the lead back to 21, and that iced the game.

“We were beating ourselves. We were shooting our gaps wrong, not executing our job, and not tackling. We have to come back Monday and get better and put it behind us,” linebacker Daylen Gill said.

Gill had his season high in tackles with 12.

Georgia State was able to put it in the endzone one final time before the game ended. They finished the day with 388 yards on the ground and 521 yards in total.

“I felt like we got too comfortable. I’m glad it happened. Now I feel like we are going to work for real now. We got three more [games] left to try and make a bowl game. I feel like we can win out if you ask me,” Gill said.

There was discussion of whether this team could handle the success, and today they did not. But like Gill said, there is three games left and three opportunities remaining to make a push for bowl game.

Southern Miss falls to 5-4 on the season and takes on Coastal Carolina next week in Conway, South Carolina.