Georgia State Defense Leads Panthers Past USA Jags, 21-13

Conner Manning threw for two scores and the Georgia State defense limited the University of South Alabama to just 41 rushing yards in earning a 21-13 Sun Belt Conference football victory over the Jaguars Thursday at "Pete" Petit Field at Georgia State Stadium.

GSU (4-3, 3-1 Sun Belt) opened the scoring when Manning found Glenn Smith from two yards out on third-and-goal less than two minutes into the action after 30-yard interception return set up the Panthers inside the Jag 10-yard line. His second scoring pass with just under 13 minutes remaining extended the GSU lead to 21-6.

The Jags (3-5, 2-2 SBC) drew to within one score when Dallas Davis found Jamarius Way open down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown pass with a little over two minutes to go in the game. Davis ended up 27-of-48 passing for 297 yards.

South's Jeremy Reaves paced all players with 11 tackles and a forced fumble, while Michael Shaw was credited with seven stops — including a pair behind the line — to lead GSU.

GAME FACTS
-GSU took a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest following an interception returned to the Jaguar six-yard line, marking the first time the opposition scored the initial points of the game since USA faced Oklahoma State on Sept. 8.
-Before the Panthers' 95-yard scoring drive — capped by Kyler Neal's seven-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes to go in the opening half — the Jaguars had allowed 71 total yards.
-Although the Jaguars held a 338-309 advantage they were limited to just 41 yards on the ground.
-Georgia State was 7-of-14 on third-down conversions and scored on all three trips to the red zone.
-Not only did the Panthers intercept two passes, they broke up seven others and had six tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
-Jamarius Way (118) and Sam Harris (73) finished with four fewer receiving yards for the Jaguars than GSU recorded as a team.

NOTES
-The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Jaguars.
-GSU won for the third time in four series meetings in Atlanta.
-Five of the seven matchups between the two schools have been decided by eight points or less.
-USA's 41 rushing yards matched the fewest it has gained this season, first recorded against nationally-ranked Oklahoma State the second week of the season.
-It was the first time this year that the Jags have fallen when finishing with more passing yards than the opposition.
-Jeremy Reaves fell one tackle shy of matching his season-best total posted in the Jaguars' Sun Belt Conference opener against Idaho on Sept. 23.
-It was the fifth time the senior has paced the Jags in the category, but first in over a month.
-Reaves is now tied for second on school season record list with three forced fumbles after he had a hand in the lone South takeaway of the contest.
-Dallas Davis became the second USA quarterback in school history to surpass 4,000 yards passing in a career after finishing with 297 yards in the game.
-Corliss Waitman had a career-high four of five punts end inside the GSU-20, as he averaged 46.4 yards per kick.
-It was the fifth time this season Gavin Patterson has converted multiple field goals in a contest, and the second occasion he has done it in back-to-back outings.
-Jamarius Way had his first 100-yard game as a Jaguar after finishing with career highs of six receptions for 118 yards.

THEY SAID IT
South Alabama head coach Joey Jones
Opening statement: "I do want to congratulate Georgia State, they came out and played a really good game and good defense.   They played hard and made plays at times, so my hat's off to them."
On his reaction to tonight's loss: "It was a case of Georgia State grabbing the momentum early on with the first interception and turning that into a touchdown.  We never got the momentum back after that.  We never really did anything to flip it back our way, except late in the game when we got the long touchdown pass and recovered the onside kick.  We had a chance to drive the ball down and score, but didn't get that done.  It just felt like we were climbing out of a hole the whole game.  We would drive the ball a little bit on offense, but then stall out.  We have to learn from this game, because over the last two weeks, we've been able to take the momentum away from teams and held it, but we didn't do anything to turn the momentum in our favor tonight."
On moving on from this game: "Moving on from a loss is part of it and life in the Sun Belt.  Going forward now, we have to be a man and stand up and get back to work.  We knew this was going to be a tough game.  We understand going into these type of games that we have to come in and make plays early on the road to win ball games, but tonight we didn't get it done.  We have to get ready for the next game and that's part of it."

Dallas Davis
On the tough loss: "Offensively, we just didn't execute.  The offensive line did a good job and gave me all the time in the world to throw but we just didn't execute out on the perimeter, and we have to be able to do that to win games.  I feel like we came out flat today, and that's on me; I have to get the offense going, so I take the blame for it."
On Georgia State's defense making South one-dimensional: "I don't know what our final rushing yard total was, but we have to be able to run the football and throw it.  The bottom line is that we have to execute the offense and if we can't do that, we can't put points on the board.  This one sucks.  We came over here two years ago and the same thing happened.  We have to learn from it and get better."
On quickly moving on from the loss: "We have to win out in order to have a shot at doing some good things and that's the bottom line.  This week, we're going to learn from this game and move forward."

Jeremy Reaves
On his reaction to the game tonight: "It's tough.  Georgia State has a good ball club, some great players on the offensive side of the ball and a good quarterback.  You can't let that type of team get the momentum early, because if they get it they will carry it the whole game.  We just didn't make the plays."
On the team coming out flat tonight: "We were flat and didn't even have any excitement during warm ups, which is a rare thing for us.  Nobody brought any energy or showed up and they beat us."
On the disappointment: "It's tough, because you put so much into preparing and it just seems like all the hard work goes down the drain sometimes when games like this happen.  It's tough especially for us seniors since we only have a few more weeks with these guys.  We just have to keep their spirits high and show the young guys that we can't quit when it gets hard; you have to keep pushing no matter the outcome and try to get better each week."
On everything still being in front of them: "We have to bury this game and put it behind us.  Sunday starts a new week for us when we get back on the practice field.  You just have to learn that you can't come out flat.  Every team you play is going to give you their best every week; you can't expect to just show up and beat someone.  We have some good ball clubs in the Sun Belt.  You have to bring your energy and your 'A' game every week or you're going to get beat." 

Up next: South opens a two-game homestand on Saturday, Nov. 4 against Louisiana, with kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium slated for 3 p.m. (CDT)