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Georgia State Unable to Contain UNC’s Howell in 59-17 Loss

Sam Howell recorded 456 all-purpose yards in a career game

NCAA Football: Georgia St. at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia State failed to stop the high-octane North Carolina offense in week two matchup between the two teams. The Tar Heels threw for 406 yards and four touchdowns in their 59-17 rout of the Panthers.

Quarterback Sam Howell contributed 352 of those yards (backup Jacoby Criswell added the remaining 54 near the end of the game) but also put in the work on the ground. Howell rushed for a career-high 104 yards and scored twice with his legs.

“There’s a reason why [Howell] has the talk of being the top quarterback in college football and being the top pick in the NFL draft,” GSU head coach Shawn Elliott said after the game, “it’s hard to compete with that guy.”

Elliott added that his team did themselves no favors by not limiting Howell’s ground game.

“Some of his runs,” Elliott said, “he didn’t do anything spectacular… Everybody has an assignment and we’re not playing assignment football.”

Howell ran the ball for as many as 62 yards in one play. On that specific third quarter read option, he made it nearly 20 yards before even being touched by a defending Panther.

Senior receiver Antoine Green accumulated the most receiving yards for the Tar Heels, but did so thanks to chunk plays. His 117 yards were totaled up on just three receptions. Sophomore wideout Josh Downs was Howell’s favorite target of the night— he caught eight passes, twice as many as the next highest total on his team— and tallied 73 yards and a touchdown.

Much like in its game against Army, Georgia State was unable to find an offensive rhythm. The Panthers’ first three drives resulted in a punt, a turnover on downs, and then another punt. Their fourth possession ended with three points off the foot of kicker Noel Ruiz, but only because of their incredible starting field position. Howell fumbled the ball and GSU started its drive in the opposing red zone; they did not gain a single yard on three offensive plays and resorted to Ruiz on UNC’s 19-yard line.

181 of the Panthers’ 271 yards came on the ground. No one particularly dominated the rushing game. Six different players rushed for at least 10 yards, but Darren Grainger led GSU with 56 yards on five carries.

Grainger, the backup quarterback, played the majority of the fourth quarter after starter Cornelius Brown IV was intercepted for the second time this season. Brown IV completed 12 of his 26 attempts and accumulated just 68 yards before he was benched. Grainger passed only four times and completed half of those attempts.

Following this defeat, the Panthers are 0-2. It is the first time GSU has lost consecutive games since 2019 when it lost to rival Georgia Southern in the final regular season game and then to Wyoming in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

GSU play their next game in Atlanta against the 2-0 Charlotte 49ers. That game is at 7:00 pm on September 18th.

UNC entered this game ranked 24th in the FBS and will likely remain a ranked team after beating GSU. The Heels are now 1-1 on the season and will stay at home next week for their game against the 2-0 Virginia Cavaliers on September 18th at 7:30 pm.