For the third game in a row, Georgia State blew a second half lead Saturday afternoon, this time to Marshall 28-23. The Panthers led by three as deep as the fourth quarter but an utter offensive collapse closed the book on GSU’s highly disappointing season.
Georgia State led by three as late as the fourth quarter, thanks largely to two early missed field goals from Thundering Herd freshman kicker Rece Verhoff, but was incapable of moving the ball barring a 13-play touchdown drive that started the second half.
These struggles were most evident on a mid-fourth quarter drive that was just three plays; all three were sacks on GSU QB Darren Grainger. Marshall ended the game with seven sacks on Grainger.
That three-and-out was the fourth of four for the Panthers; Marshall had just three all game.
GSU did put up some fight late, a 54-yard Jamari Thrash catch set up a punch-in touchdown and a missed two-point conversion to cut the lead from 11 to five within four minutes but the Panthers would not get the ball back from Marshall.
In just his second game of the season, last year’s national touchdown leader Rasheen Ali scored his first touchdown of the year. Ali, a Marshall sophomore, led the game with 102 ground yards; fellow Thundering Herd rusher Khalan Laborn also ran for 100 yards.
GSU was held to an uncharacteristic 74 rushing yards, no single rusher had more than 25, but Grainger did pass for 291 yards with just seven incompletions.
With a loss, the Panthers finish the year 4-8, 3-5 in Sun Belt play. Five of those seven losses were by just one score, and GSU held a lead in seven of their eight losses. This ends a three-year bowl appearance streak, the longest in school history.
At 8-4 Marshall are bowl eligible for their ninth bowl game in ten years. In their first year as a Sun Belt team the Thundering Herd finished third in the East Division with a 5-3 in-conference record.