Panthers Survive to Top Campbell 42-35

ATLANTA—Georgia State ended its second season on a high note, winning its Senior-Day matchup with the Campbell Fighting Camels in a game that featured both record-setting performances and continued kicking game and fourth quarter struggles.

Senior Day began with twenty Georgia State seniors being honored by Athletic Director Cheryl Levick and Head Coach Bill Curry in pregame ceremonies.  The Panthers got behind early when Campbell scored on its first drive, but recovered scoring 14 unanswered points in the first half, including a 56-yard pass by quarterback Kelton Hill to Danny Williams.

The kicking game struggled in the first half, as the opening kickoff was pushed out-of-bounds, giving Campbell good starting field position at the 40.  Then, early in the second quarter, Matt Ehasz missed a field goal wide left, giving Campbell the ball at their 27.

However, the Panther’s defense forced two turnovers in the first half with an interception by safety Demazio Skelton and a fumble caused by Dexter Moody and recovered by linebacker Jake Muasau.

To start the second half, Darren McCray returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to the GSU 45, and on the first play from scrimmage, Hill completed a 55-yard pass to Jordan Giles for a touchdown.  The GSU defense then forced a three-and-out, but on GSU’s first play from scrimmage, Hill fumbled the ball and Campbell recovered it at the GSU 28.  Campbell then took eight plays to get into the endzone, bringing the score to 14-21.

The ensuing drive was the Kelton Hill show as the entire drive consisted of two plays – rushes of 25 and 39 yards by Hill, the later for a touchdown. “Honestly, I was just trying to pick up the first down,” Hill said of his 39-yard scoring scamper. “Then I saw open grass in front of me, so I took it and made the defender miss and it was off to the races.”

The Panthers took their 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter, which has not been kind to the Panthers this year, and scored again on a three-yard pass to Arthur Williams, and a  to bring the score to 35-14.  However, Campbell was not through with the Panthers and executed a long scoring drive, that was kept alive in part by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against a Georgia Dome cameraman (it was apparent that something was odd when the flag was thrown backward and hit Sam Crenshaw, the sideline reporter).

With less than nine minutes remaining, Campbell then attempted an onside kick that was recovered by Danny Williams on the Campbell 39.  Donald Russell then rushed for 27 yeards over three plays to take it to the Campbell 12, and Malcolm Smith capped the drive with an excellent scoring run (the first of his career) to bring the score to 21-42.

Campbell then scored two touchdowns with under seven minutes to go to get within a touchdown of GSU.  However, the comeback was stopped when Danny Williams recovered a second onside kick with 1:51 remaining.

While it was good to end the season with a win, the setbacks suffered this year need to be addressed before the Panthers start CAA conference play next year.
“What we pushed with our team was, we’ve got one more chance to show what we’re made of and in many ways we did that today,” said head coach Bill Curry. “We still have light years to go.”

Hill finished with 354 total yards on 213 yards passing and 141 yards rushing and broke a school record with five total touchdowns.  “It feels great to go out with a bang,” Hill said. “We’ll hit the offseason running and get better”.  Hill finished the season with 11 touchdown passes, five of which were for over 50 yards.

“His accuracy has improved,” Curry said of the sophomore quarterback. “His leadership has improved. He has come through some personal adversity this year, as have all our quarterbacks, in a way that makes us real proud of him.”

Donald Russell led the team with 146 yards rushing on 19 carries, and Danny Williams had a team-leading 92 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches.  Jordan Giles three catches, including a career-high two touchdowns, with 71 yards receiving.

Other records that were set by the Panthers on Saturday included total yards (514), rushing yards (301), first downs (27), and having two 100-yard rushers for the first time in school history.

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