MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Georgia State’s second trip to Mobile this season was even more successful than its first.
The Panthers scored touchdowns on four consecutive first-half possessions Saturday in the LendingTree Bowl in a 39-21 victory over Western Kentucky at at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Georgia State (6-4) beat Sun Belt Conference rival South Alabama 31-14 on Nov. 21, across town at Hancock Whitney Stadium.
Redshirt freshman Cornelius “Quad” Brown threw for 226 yards and three second-quarter touchdowns. Destin Coates added 117 yards and a touchdown rushing, part of a 227-yard day on the ground for Georgia State.
Brown threw an interception on the Panthers’ second possession, leading to a talking-to from coach Shawn Elliott.
“I told him, ‘You can’t win the game on one play,’” Elliott said. “And he settled down after that. On the third drive we started clicking. Our receivers and our backs and our offensive line — the supporting cast around Quad — had to play well, and they did. They push hard every single day but Quad had an exceptional night. I’m really, really proud of him.”
Western Kentucky (5-7) scored first, driving 80 yards in 14 plays for quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome’s 2-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first. Georgia State answered with a largely run-based drive, capped by Coates’ 11-yard run that made it 7-7 with eight seconds remaining in the first.
The Panthers scored again on their next possession to take a 14-7 lead, with Brown hitting Sam Pinckney with a 26-yard strike at the goal line with 9:50 left in the half. After Pigrome threw his first interception of the year three plays later, Georgia State again got into the end zone on Brown’s 5-yard pass to Jamari Thrash for a 21-7 lead at the 2:09 mark of the second.
Georgia State picked off another of Pigrome’s passes moments later, and again it led to points. The Panthers drove 80 yards to the end zone, with Brown hitting Cornelius McCoy on an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 27-7 lead with 8 seconds left in the half.
“After that first interception, I knew we’d get to rolling,” Brown said. “ … The guys picked me up. They made sure I didn’t hang my head. They never lost in confidence in me."
Western Kentucky scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half, with Gaej Walker running in from the 2. That made it 27-14.
Georgia State added Noel Ruiz’s 45-yard field goal for a 30-14 lead midway through the third. Western Kentucky then had a chance to make it a one-score game, but the Panthers stopped the Hilltoppers on fourth-and-1 from the 2.
Ruiz booted a 29-yard field goal with 11:19 left to make it a three-score game again at 33-14. Backup quarterback Mikele Colasurdo capped the Panthers’ scoring with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cadarrius Thompson with 5:13 remaining.
Western Kentucky tacked on a touchdown with 2:18 left, when C.J. Jones ran in from two yards out. The Hilltoppers were outgained 478 yards to 284 in the game.
“Hats off to Georgia State, they just flat out out-played us tonight,” Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton said. “I thought there were a couple of things early in the game we did a good job of, but penalties cost us at critical times. They did all the right things. They beat us hands-down.”
Brown completed 15 of 29 passes with an interception and ran for 40 yards on 10 attempts before giving way to Colasurdo midway through the fourth quarter
Pigrome, like Brown an Alabama native playing back in his home state, was 17 of 33 for 180 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times.
Georgia State: The Panthers finished with a winning record in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s 11-year history. They enter the offseason on a three-game winning streak.
Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers — who had a three-game winning streak snapped —finish with a losing record for the third time in four years, with a 9-4 mark in 2019 the highlight.
Pigrome entered the game having not thrown an interception in 264 attempts this season, but the streak ended at 278 when Georgia State’s Antarious Lane made a diving pickoff midway through the second quarter. The streak was the longest in WKU history and in the FBS this season.
ABOVE & BELOW .500
Georgia State is 2-1 in bowls, with both wins over Western Kentucky. The Panthers also beat the Hilltoppers 27-17 in the 2017 Cure Bowl. Western Kentucky is 3-3 in bowls.
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