GSU Red Zone Turnovers Lead to Loss

Image courtesy of GSU Sports Communications

Following an overtime loss to NAIA St. Francis (IL), Georgia State took its squad on the road to Livingston, Alabama, home of the Division II University of West Alabama (UWA), formerly known as the Livingston Female Academy.

The Panthers got behind early in the game as the UWA Tigers scored a field goal and a touchdown to go up 10-0 before GSU was able to put points on the board by way of a 33-yard pass from Kelton Hill to Albert Wilson with 2:00 left in the first quarter.  The teams then traded touchdowns in the second quarter, GSU’s coming on a 53-yard scoring run by Hill.  The Panthers were again threatening late in the first half when Hill threw an interception, giving the Tigers the ball with 1:35 left.  UWA then drove down and kicked a field goal with 16 seconds left in the first half, entering the locker room with a 14-20 halftime lead.

GSU opened the second half with a drive to the UWA four-yard line, but during the drive the Panthers lost running backs Parris Lee and Travis Evans to injuries.  Hill was then stopped twice on quarterback sneaks, and the Panthers turned the ball over on downs.  On the ensuing possesion, the GSU defense was able to stop UWA on its first three downs and then got the only score of the third quarter when Demazio Skelton blocked the Tiger punt for a safety, the first in Georgia State history.  Georgia State then drove into the red zone again, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal attempt by Matt Ehasz, who bounced it off of the upright.

With multiple opportunities already lost, the top three running backs out of commission, and considering that Georgia State had been outscored 92-13 in the fourth quarter coming into the game, there was little reason to think that any fourth quarter heroics were in store (unless you count the fact that the Panthers were playing a Div II team).  However, after UWA was limited to a field goal with 13:10 left in the game to take a 23-16 lead, the Panthers moved the ball well.......until Hill fumbled at the two yard line and UWA recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

Yet, hope again flickered anew when, on UWA’s first play, Dexter Moody intercepted the ball and returned it to the nine yard line.  The next play, Malcolm Smith (a shout-out to Smith's family, who have season tickets near ours) gained seven yards, and then Hill took it the final two yards, tying the game at 23 with nine minutes to play.

It seemed that lady luck had finally smiled on the Panthers when, on UWA’s next play, Christo Bilukidi recovered a fumble on the UWA 11-yard line.  But three plays later, a bad exchange caused a GSU fumble that was recovered by the Tigers on their own 14-yard line.  UWA then drove 86 yards in nine plays for a touchdown with 2:12 to play.

Fighting to not endure yet another fourth quarter disappointment, Kelton Hill then led the Panthers back into the UWA red zone with an eight-yard completion to Nathaniel Minor at the UWA 17 for a first down with 48 seconds left.....but Minor fumbled the ball to end the threat.  The Panthers have now been outscored 102-20 in the fourth quarter this season.

Kelton Hill set another GSU record by rushing for 152 yards, and also completed 19 of 36 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown. The Panthers outgained the Tigers, 447-388, including 219 yards rushing and 228 yards passing.  However it was four costly turnovers that ensured the loss.

“We were down inside the 10 four times in the second half and came away with nothing, and if you do that, you’re going to get beat,” said GSU head coach Bill Curry. “We fought valiantly, and we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball, but ball security is the most important factor in football.”

Albert Wilson caught a career-high eight passes for 120 yards with a 33-yard scoring pass from Hill. Danny Williams had one catch, extending his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 21.  He now has 36 receptions over eight games for 764 yards, 21.2 yards average per catch, and 95.5 average yards per game.

GSU plays its final game of the 2011 next Saturday, hosting Campbell at 2 p.m. at the Georgia Dome for Senior Day.

Best Offensive Play: Kelton Hill 53-yard touchdown run.

Best Special Teams Play: Punt Block by Demazio Skelton recovered for a Safety.

When it was over: When Nathaniel Minor fumbled with 48 seconds left.

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